Federalism and European Union: The Building of Europe, 1950-2000

Federalism and European Union: The Building of Europe, 1950-2000

Federalism and European Union: The Building of Europe, 1950-2000

Federalism and European Union: The Building of Europe, 1950-2000

Synopsis

A revisionist interpretation of the post-war evolution of European integration and the European Union (EU), this book reappraises and reassesses conventional explanations of European integration. It adopts a federalist approach which supplements state-based arguments with federal political ideas, influences and strategies. By exploring the philosophical and historical origins of federal ideas and tracing their influence throughout the whole of the EU's evolution, the book makes a significant contribution to the scholarly debate about the nature and development of the EU. The book looks at federal ideas stretching back to the sixteenth century and demonstrates their fundamental continuity to contemporary European integration. It situates these ideas in the broad context of post-war western Europe and underlines their practical relevance in the activities of Jean Monnet and Altiero Spinelli. Post-war empirical developments are explored from a federalist perspective, revealing an enduring persistence of federal ideas which have been either ignored or overlooked in conventional interpretations. The book challenges traditional conceptions of the post-war and contemporary evolution of the EU, to reassert and reinstate federalism in theory and practice at the very core of European integration.

Excerpt

This is a book about history, but history of a particular kind. My purpose is to re-examine and reappraise the post-war history of European integration with the intention of restoring the importance of federalism to the building of Europe. I intend to reinstate the federal idea as a perfectly feasible and empirically valid component in the overall explanation of the European construction.

It has long been my belief that it is dangerous to leave the study of history to historians. Political scientists have an important contribution to make to the study of post-war west European history which looks not only for the origins and development of political ideas but also for persistent patterns of human behaviour. Political ideas take root in specific social contexts and these contexts in turn facilitate particular kinds of human responses and reactions. At its most basic level, the germination and gestation of political ideas in the context of the building of Europe suggest that federalism merits detailed investigation as a distinct idea which harbours a particular vision of the evolving European reality. the history of post-war Western Europe, then, requires revision if this vision is to become a tangible reality. When the federal idea coincides with reality it has the possibility to be translated into practical action.

For too long the federal idea has been construed by its opponents as something which can be recognised and tolerated but which ultimately is either hopelessly impractical or downright Utopian. Indeed, for some hostile critics, it would be a real dystopia. Why has federalism provoked such an obviously irrational human response and why does it continue today to upset even well-informed observers of the evolving European Union (EU)? Put simply, the answer would seem to lie in context. the federalists’ adversaries look upon the federal idea in the eu much less favourably than they do in its national context in federations like Switzerland, Germany or the United States. This is largely because they understandably construe the federal experience in these countries as part of the complex historical processes of state-building and national integration which have yielded new national states. Federalism has, therefore, become inextricably intertwined with the dual ideas of building both a

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