CHAPTER 4
The movement to integration: a theoretical
perspective

Since the ending of World War Two, several moves have been made towards unification
in Europe. They have culminated in the creation of the European Union, as a result of the
implementation of the Maastricht Treaty. A union can imply relatively loose cooperation
between member states designed for their mutual advantage or a much closer degree of
unity in which key decisions are made by supranational institutions. The term
‘integration’ refers to the process via which this unification has come about, a process in
which for more than fifty years sovereign states have relinquished or ‘pooled’ some of
their national sovereignty in order to maximise their collective strength. The various
steps along the road to greater unity – economic, military and political – are seen as
moves in the direction of closer integration.

Integration theory refers to the views advanced in a considerable amount of literature
to explain the manner in which the EU has evolved and the factors involved in its
evolution. As we shall see, none of them provides a complete picture. In this chapter, we
examine the main perspectives that writers have adopted, in particular the key division
between intergovernmentalists and supranationalists.

In Chapter 1, we referred to the different theories relevant to an understanding of the development of postwar integration: federalism, functionalism and intergovernmentalism. Monnet felt that intergovernmentalism was not enough, but as to whether he was himself a federalist or a functionalist is a matter of disagreement.The same difficulty has afflicted those commentators who have attempted to provide a theoretical explanation of the dynamics of integration, in other words to explain how and why it has come about. The difficulty is all the greater because at different periods the Union has exhibited different tendencies, sometimes seeming to progress more by intergovernmental agreement, at others because of the inspiration of those who have urged a federalist agenda.
Theories of integration: why it has come about
In the postwar era, national leaders in several countries have seen the merits of closer unity in Europe. Various theories have been advanced to explain the transformation of Europe that has resulted from the steps they have taken:
Some writers emphasise the long-standing enterprise of articulating the ‘idea of Europe’. They see the events of the late 1940s as the fulfilment of a dream of European unity which has deep roots. Unity is therefore an expression of, or a search for, a clear identity and a distinctive set of European values. In this view, Europe is seen as the ‘cradle of civilisation’ and postwar cooperation as an attempt to restore the continent to its former importance and glory.

-61-

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The European Union
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Boxes vii
  • Tables viii
  • Maps ix
  • Introduction x
  • Background Information xv
  • Section One- History 1
  • Introduction 3
  • Chapter 1 - The Drive for European Unity to 1973 5
  • Chapter 2 - From Community to Union, 1973–93 30
  • Chapter 3 - Consolidating the European Union, 1993 To the Present Day 49
  • Chapter 4 - The Movement to Integration- A Theoretical Perspective 61
  • Section Two- Institutions 73
  • Introduction 75
  • Chapter 5 - Institutions of the European Union 76
  • Chapter 6 - Policy-Making and Law-Making Processes 97
  • Chapter 7 - Democracy and the European Union 115
  • Section Three- Representation 127
  • Introduction 129
  • Chapter 8 - Elections to the European Parliament 130
  • Chapter 9 - Political Parties and the European Union 152
  • Chapter 10 - Pressure Groups and the European Union 171
  • Section Four- Policies 189
  • Introduction 191
  • Chapter 11 - The Union Budget 196
  • Chapter 12 - First-Pillar Policies 204
  • Chapter 13 - Second- And Third-Pillar Policies 230
  • Section Five- Attitudes 239
  • Introduction 241
  • Chapter 14 - Member States 250
  • Chapter 15 - Britain and Europe- A Case Study 266
  • Conclusion- the State of the Union, Past and Present 277
  • References 294
  • Further Reading 303
  • Index 307
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