Federalism, Intergovernmentalism, and Intelligence: The Future of Cooperation in the European Union

By Ryan, Kenneth J. | Forum on Public Policy: A Journal of the Oxford Round Table, Spring 2008 | Go to article overview

Federalism, Intergovernmentalism, and Intelligence: The Future of Cooperation in the European Union


Ryan, Kenneth J., Forum on Public Policy: A Journal of the Oxford Round Table


Introduction

In development of a joint (multinational) and fused (combined) cross-border intelligence product among national institutions, what role does the governance system of government play in establishing cooperative regimes in a large scale information-sharing venture? Specifically, how do prevailing political philosophies of federalism and intergovernmentalism impact EU criminal intelligence agencies and their ability to share information in fusion analysis? Armed with this understanding, intelligence agency executives will be well-prepared to perceive others' early bargaining positions when these are made more predictable. Examining relationships between intelligence agencies and host governments will reveal a better understanding of how cooperative relationships may evolve with intelligence agencies of other governments.

Additionally, the relationships among EU member-states will be examined to determine if a relationship exists between intergovernmental (confederal) and supranational (federal) philosophies and the sharing capabilities of the respective criminal intelligence agencies. The recent popular trend toward intergovernmentalism will be examined, as well as implications for the future of EU intelligence.

Economics and Nascent Federalization

William Riker (1964) suggested that decisions in governance are perceived in cost-benefit terms; therefore, federations emerge when the benefits of federalism exceed the costs. He adds that nascent federations are in danger of failing (or breaking up) when the costs borne by the component states are perceived to be greater than the benefits derived from remaining in the federation (Riker 1964, Chapter 3). Over the past decade this has not been the case in the European Union. Neither has a hegemonic power risen to the fore, nor has the economic burden of operating the EU fallen to just one or several major players (e.g., the Big 3/Big 5). Therefore, over time the EU has achieved a significant degree of stability politically and economically as a result of prudent cost-benefit decisionmaking at federal (i.e., supranational) levels. This otherwise humble observation has a dynamic effect on the criticism of supranationalism, since it blunts the intergovernmentalist argument that assembling a number of diverse states in a common economic or political cause would be inherently unstable (Riker 1964). Not only is there substantive proof to the contrary, but also the onus of proving intergovernmental primacy shifts to its supporters.

To best understand EU federalism versus intergovernmentalism, first the concept of European integration must be examined. According to Wayne Sandholtz and John Zysman (1998), integration, "begins when governments perceive certain economic policy problems cannot be solved by national means alone and agree to joint policymaking in supranational institutions" (pp. 198-199). This view is of particular note since the root of European integration is, therefore, economics, not conflict. This is noteworthy because dealing with conflict was among the purposes in establishing early cooperation in post-World War II Europe, particularly in neutralizing any future threat of German militarism (Nelson and Stubb 1998, 16). However, when Germany no longer was perceived as a regional threat, the swelling economic framework that bound Germany to its neighbors became the single-most reason for European integration (McKay 1996, 5).

Prevailing political theory in post-World War II Europe posited that if former antagonists cooperated economically it would diminish the chance of future war. Hence, formation of the European Coal and Steel Community economically tied France and Germany and later others as well. Once the notion of uniting Europe politically met with the notion of uniting Europe economically, a common European direction was forged, i.e., political unification based on establishing a unified European economic presence in the world market.

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