Many theories on European integration have emerged after the terrible events of World War II. They tried to explain how political actors in distinct national settings will shift their loyalties, expectations and political activities in order to unify and create a stable political and economic alliance throughout the Europe. (Haas, Ernst B., 1968: The Uniting of Europe. 1950-1957. Stanford: Stanford UP, p. 16). The main theories at that time were Functionalism, Neo-functionalism, Intergovernmentalism, Liberal Intergovernmentalism and Federalism. In this essay most competing theories revolving around the process of European Integration will be compared. They are the Liberal Intergovernmental approach created by Andrew Moravcsik and Neo-Functionalism was developed by Earns Haas. I agree with Liberal Intergovernmental theory of European integration as it provides a more useful utility to explain the creation of the community and how various actors behave within the European system compared to Neo-Functional approach. LI is also better, because “it has achieved this dominant status due to its theoretical soundness, empirical power, and utility as a foundation for synthesis with other explanations” regarding regional and European Integration (Moravcsik, Schimmelfennig 2009: 67). This statement will be further developed by contrasting main assumptions of these theories, as well as observing causal relationships in political facts in case of the Single European Act (SEA) which happened in the process of establishing a union amongst European countries (Sabine, George H., 1968: A history of political theory. London: Harrap, p. V).
The largest discourse in theorising European Integration happened around two theories – Neo-functionalism and Liberal Intergovernmentalism. Neo-functionalism was created in the mid-1950s. The main thinker was Earns Haas who developed this theory in his work
“The Uniting of Europe: Political, Social and Economic Forces 1950-1957” (Cini 2004, p. 81). He tried to find out how regional cooperation and development were linked to the integration in Latin America and Europe. However later, the theory became associated with the European Union, since economic and political integration was much more developed there, compared to Latin America (Cini 2004, p.83). Before the creation of Intergovernmentalism, Neo-functionalism (a pluralist theory) seemed to provide a better explanation of the European Integration (EI). It explained ‘how and why they (states) voluntarily mingle, merge and mix with their neighbours so as to lose the factual attributes of sovereignty while acquiring new techniques for resolving con¬‚ict between themselves’ (Haas 1970: 610).
The most prominent ideas of neo-functionalists were the ‘spillover’ effects which push the EI, as nation states are interdependent. They also stressed importance of non-state actors in international politics. Haas argued, that they way in which countries behave on international arena was a direct outcome of a pluralistic political process. Other actors, like institutions within the state and interest groups influenced decisions of the government. This fact shaped the way the states behave, thus shaped the European Integration. Neo-functionalists often use activities of multinational corporations to show how various non-governmental actors shape international politics. But the prime example to prove the assumption, that non-state actors are very important in EI is the European Commission. As it was considered to be in unique position – it is a non-state actor, it can shape both international and domestic pressures on governments of European states to promote the EI, despite the fact that some governments might not look forward to collaborate. This way Neo-Functionalism places major emphasis on the role of non-governmental actors; governments are important actors in the process as well.
Neo-Functionalism view spillover as a driving force of the EI. Broad political integration derives from economic integration between the states which is the cause of close cooperation in particular economic policy sector. This process can be understood by a concept of spillover, as explained by Lindberg (1963: 10):
“In its most general formulation, ‘spillover’ refers to a situation in which a given action, related to a speci¬c goal, creates a situation in which the original goal can be assured only by taking further actions, which in turn create a further condition and a need for more action, and so forth”
There are several types of spillovers in NF theory. The main are the political and functional. The functional spillover may be explained as a situation where integration in one economic sector will foster integration in other policy areas. So functional pressures are created for further integration within and beyond that policy area. As a result, economies of nation states will entangle. As integration expands social interests will change towards supranational centre and the need for further European institutionalisation will arise (Rosamond, Ben, 2000: Theories of European Integration. Houndsmills: MacMillan, p. 51-52). As a result of functional spillover, it can be seen that industrial economies are interconnected. So it is not possible to separate one policy area from another. This implies a political spillover which is involved in creating political pressures in order to promote integration in states involved in functional spillover. As soon as one policy area is created, various actors interested in its development will seek ways in which they can have influence at the supranational level. As for example, the development of ECSC (European Coal and Steel Community) will make consumer groups, trade unions and lobbysts from coal and steel communities to switch from national governments to the new supranational agency – the High Authority. Later on actors will appreciate the benefits opened to them as a result of the integration. They will further advocate integration to eliminate barriers imposed by governments prior to integration.
“the process of community formation is dominated by nationally constituted groups with speci¬ c interests and aims, willing and able to adjust their aspirations by turning to supranational means when this course appears pro¬table”(Haas 1966: xxxiv).
Based on Hoffmann’s work, which criticised Neo-functionalism, Andrew Moravcsik created an improved version of the integration process explanation. To prove that the new Liberal Intergovernmental approach is better it is important to fully understand its theoretical basis. Liberal Intergovernmental (LI) theory tries to explain the process of European Integration. It starts by recognising political actors and trying to find which roles did they take during the Integration. In order to agree or disagree with the theory it is essential to understand who the actors are and what they do. LI theory emphasises the national governments being the most important actors. I agree with this point, as I find that the state governments are the main drivers of integration compared to supranational actors and institutions as Neo-functionalism argues. States achieve their goals through intergovernmental bargaining. But they only negotiate, if their national interest is concerned. It may be observed that this way national governments are the most powerful drivers of the European Integration, as they control the pace and deepness of unification with other countries. The reason for the power lies in the nature of the state government. All of the members are democratically elected, which makes them unique in the integration process. The governments also possess legal sovereignty. Taking into account facts and assumptions of Liberal Intergovernmentalism it could be seen that this explanation of integration process is more elucidating.
Liberal Intergovernmentalism implies that states are rational. It means that the state government will closely examine all the possible options given in any question which concerns their national interest. Then it chooses the one which maximises profit for the state, thus satisfying the national interest. In “The Choice for Europe (1998)”, Moravcsik explains how governments operate together. It is based on two assumptions of LI theory: a) states are the most influential actors; b) states are rational in their actions. Firstly, they state what is the most important for their nation (preferences), and then they bargain and negotiate with other governments to achieve a most effective consensus for both. In third place, they order the existent supranational institutions or create new ones in order to ensure that their decisions will be implemented and secured afterwards. (Moravcsik / Schimmelpfennig p.70f)
It may be seen that LI theorists do not deny the existence of other actors – institutions, bodies and interest groups (for example – civil servants and officials within the state) in their explanation of integration. These actors could also affect the process and decisions made, but their influence is rather marginal in the creation of global international system. Neo-Functionalist theory emphasises how important the role of them are, but these national and supranational actors do not play a significant role in European Integration as they are merely used by national governments only when the latter pursue national interest.
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