The Choice for Europe: Social Purpose and State Power from Messina to Maastricht

The Choice for Europe: Social Purpose and State Power from Messina to Maastricht

The Choice for Europe: Social Purpose and State Power from Messina to Maastricht

The Choice for Europe: Social Purpose and State Power from Messina to Maastricht


Andrew Moravcsik analyzes the history of the region's movement toward economic & political union. Economic interdependence has been, he maintains, the primary force compelling these democracies to move in this surprising direction. Far from demonstrating the impotence or irrelevance of the modern nation-state, the history of the European Community reveals a distinctly modern form of power politics.


To succeed, always choose the path of least resistance.

—Jean Monnet (1978)

The central argument of this book is that European integration can best be explained as a series of rational choices made by national leaders. These choices responded to constraints and opportunities stemming from the economic interests of powerful domestic constituents, the relative power of each state in the international system, and the role of international institutions in bolstering the credibility of interstate commitments. I test this account across the five most salient negotiations in the history of the European Community (EC): the negotiation of the Treaty of Rome signed in 1957, the consolidation of the customs union and Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) during the 1960s, the establishment of the European Monetary System (EMS) in 1978-79, the negotiation of the Single European Act (SEA) in 1985-86, and the Maastricht Treaty on European Union signed in 1991.

In this opening chapter, I present the theoretical foundations of my proposed explanation and its most plausible competitors. A theoretical introduction of this kind is necessary because these competing explanations are not simply empirical judgments about the specific case of European integration. Each rests on a general theory commonly employed to explain international economic cooperation. The use of such general theories permits us to formulate more detailed and consistent explanations, to test them more rigorously and in ways that are replicable, and finally to generalize the results to other situations.

In the first section, I present a rationalist framework of international cooperation on which rest all the theories and explanations evaluated in this book. The assumption that states act rationally or instrumentally in pursuit of relatively stable and well-ordered interests at any given point in time implies a division of major EC negotiations into three stages: national preference formation, interstate bargaining, and the choice of international institutions. This rationalist framework is one response to the criticisms of earlier theories of European integration outlined in the introduction.

In the following three sections, I present alternative theories and hypotheses to explain each of the three stages. To explain variation in national preferences, I evaluate theories based on geopolitical and economic interests. To explain the . . .

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