Drawing an analogy with the diversity of the process of European integration, Robert Schuman expressed that, when the cooperation is still at its embryonic stage, the theorization of that unique phenomenon involves a plurality of approaches developed over time and bringing together different valid insights to the understanding of regional integration''. However, it appears among scholars that a consensus has emerged in considering the theories of neofunctionalism and liberal intergovernmentalism as the two main confronting paradigms.
In order to highlight those two latest paradigms, this paper will expose the main analytical characteristics of the debated theories in the first part and will focus on their application in the second part. As a matter of fact, the two theories assume a completely different view of the European integration process. The neofunctionalist approach based on the work of Ernest Haas was very influential until the early 1970s when it became increasingly contested among scholars who embraced institutionalist and intergovernmentalist theories. However, its revival starting in the early 1990s witnessed the fact that insights brought by neofunctionalism to the process of integration appeared to be still relevant, even if the prospect of designing a grand theory' proposed by Haas had not been completely achieved (I,a).
The Spillover phenomenon can be considered as a central core of the neofunctionalists when it comes to understanding the process leading towards more supranational delegation. It can be described as the way in which the deepening of integration in one economic sector would create pressure for further economic integration within and beyond that sector, and greater authoritative capacity at the European level (Rosamond, 2000: 60); it has functional, political and geographical implications (I,b). Furthermore, it appears that as the process of integration goes ahead, a transfer of allegiance of the elites responsible for the regional integration appears, and that the result of that elite socialization' can be accounted as an aspect shaping the process itself (I,c).
[...] To conclude, it appears that liberal intergovernmentalism provides a better understanding of the European integration as a whole and also its peculiarities. Bibliography Bomberg E., Peterson J. & Stubb A., (2008), The European Union: How does it Work 2nd Ed., Oxford: Oxford University Press Cini M., (2007), European Union Politics, Oxford: Oxford University Press. Haas E. B., (1968), The Uniting of Europe, Political, Social and Economic Forces, 1950-1957, Stanford CA: Stanford University Press. Hill C. & Smith M., (2005), International Relations and the European Union, Oxford: Oxford University Press. [...]
[...] As a matter of fact, as cooperation become more intense between some states, the cost (mainly economic) of remaining outside the integration process for neighbouring states increases and therefore creates a strong incentive to join the process favouring ultimately geographical enlargements. c. Elite socialization European political elites constitute, according to the neofunctionalist approaches, an important driving factor towards more regional integration. They are important in the sense that they - even indirectly - shape the decision-making process and eventually its political outcome. [...]
[...] Moravcsik A., (1993), ‘Preferences and Power in the European Community: A Liberal Intergovernmentalist Approach', Journal of Common Market Studies, 31/4. Moravcsik A., (1995), ‘Liberal Intergovernmentalism and Integration: A Rejoinder', Journal of Common Market Studies, 33/4: 611-628. Moravcsik A., (1998), The Choice for Europe. Social Purpose and State Power from Messina to Maastricht, London: UCL Press. Moravcsik A. & Nicolaïdis C., (1999), ‘Explaining the Treaty of Amsterdam: Interests, Influence, Institutions', Journal of Common Market Studies, 37/1: 59-86. Nelsen B.F. & Stubb A., (2003), The European Union, Readings on the Theory and Practice of European Integration, Basingstoke: Lynne Rienner Publishers. [...]
[...] Here, following an intergovernmental tradition, liberal intergovernmentalism focuses primarily on integration as a result of the confrontation of different interests within a situation of asymmetrical interdependence. Therefore, negotiations lead more likely to a zero-sum game in which states act rationally envisaging the costs and benefits that they can acquire through cooperation: intensity of national preference for co- operation, compared to the best unilateral alternative, decisively shaped the process of outcomes” (Moravcsik & Nicolaidis, 1999: 69). States that have the most interest in achieving a compromise in one particular issue are de facto more flexible in other areas of lesser importance for them. [...]
[...] goes ahead, a transfer of allegiance of the elites responsible for the regional integration appears, and that the result of that ‘elite socialization' can be accounted as an aspect shaping the process itself The same kind of influence is remarkable when one considers the role played by institutions, as a matter of fact either the Commission or the European Court of Justice is considered to have fostered a kind of ‘supranational entrepreneurship' I In the second part, we will describe the main characteristics of the theory that triggered the debate in a dichotomy, and known as liberal intergovernmentalism. [...]
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