Theory and Reform in the European Union

Theory and Reform in the European Union

Theory and Reform in the European Union

Theory and Reform in the European Union

Synopsis

Completely updated and newly available in paperback, this book examines the relationship between theory and reform in the European Union in the light of the Amsterdam Treaty. It draws from a rich spectrum of regional integration theory offering an account of different approaches to the politics of European constitutional reform in the late 1990s. By establishing a link between the internal and external relations of the EU, the book develops a greater understanding of the new political and institutional dynamics of the emerging European polity and the questions that further treaty reform raise for the future evolution of the regional system.

Excerpt

The events of 1989 unleashed a number of significant changes in European development, bringing in their wake consequences such as the dismantling of the Iron Curtain, the transformation of communist regimes, German reunification, dissolution of the Warsaw Pact and the Soviet Union, an end to the Cold War syndrome and the arrival of a host of new states. the consequences of these changes affect nation-states, the European Union (EU), and European security and stability. While Europe as a whole has moved from enmity towards friendship and from conflict to co-operation in economic, political and military fields, the internal stability and cohesion of many states has been adversely affected. the result has been civil wars, fragmentation, migration and economic and social hardship. Parallel to these developments are attempts by the Union for a larger and more integrated entity.

How Europe is responding to these changes and developments and their consequences is the focus of this series, appropriately entitled Europe in Change. Books in this series take both a historical and interdisciplinary perspective in order to compare the post-1989 situation with earlier periods in European history and benefit from the theoretical insights of different disciplines in analysing both events and developments.

Theory and reform in the European Union examines how the Union has changed since the events of 1989 and whether available theoretical and conceptual tools enable us to explain and predict future European integration. the authors highlight the uneven development both within eu policy areas and between eu policies and institutional settings, emphasising that, in spite of important breakthroughs in the form of the Treaty on European Union (TEU) and the Amsterdam and Nice Treaties, the political authority of the Union has not significantly increased. Nor, according to the authors, has there been a reliable integration theory as the basis for assessing the Union's future. They suggest that structural ways of understanding changing patterns of interaction, free from the inherently fragmented boundaries of micro-analysis, are needed to establish a more reliable theory. This would involve studying how intrastate policy-making intermeshes with that of large-scale polity formation, based on an interlocking structure of political authority — a transnational polity which lacks a single locus of decision-making. For the authors, such an entity would have to strike a balance between being the main locus of collective, binding decision-making for the constituent governments, and the dominant focus of popular identification.

By focusing on the Union as a joint-decision system and by incorporating the sociopsychological conditions of popular political identification, the authors offer some valuable insights into the European integration process. Their analysis enhances the understanding of the forces that form and reform the regional system, the relevance of Treaty development and the scope of eu policy expansion, as well as the context of the eu institutional and constitutional setting. It is a book which will be an important guide for students, teachers and researchers interested in the study of European integration.

Emil J. Kirchner . . .

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