The EU, NATO and the Integration of Europe: Rules and Rhetoric

By Frank Schimmelfennig | Go to book overview

Conclusion: solving the double puzzle
of Eastern enlargement

The rhetorical mode of action is the causal link that solves the double puzzle of Eastern enlargement. Through a process of rhetorical action, the interest- and power-based initial outcome of the CEECs’ association to the EU and NATO was turned into the rule-based outcome of “membership.” In Part IV, I have tried to show both theoretically and empirically how a rule-based collective outcome is possible even if the individual actors pursue selfish and conflicting goals, the structure of bargaining power works against the rule-based outcome, and the rules cannot be enforced coercively. Drawing on the strategic conception of rules in sociological theory, I argued that, in a community environment, community members can be induced to refrain from pursuing their ruleviolating preferences and to behave in a rule-conforming way when they are confronted with arguments that invoke their prior commitments, accuse them of acting inconsistently, call into question their reputation and credibility and thereby shame them into paying heed to their obligations as community members. In the empirical parts of the chapter, I showed how the mostly self-interested advocates of Eastern enlargement persistently appealed to the collective identity, the constitutive values and norms and the past promises and practices of the community organizations and how the no less self-interested “brakemen” in NATO and the EU were silenced – that is, they felt compelled to acquiesce in the enlargement initiatives of the “drivers” without being convinced of their claims.

The results of the NATO case study were inconclusive. Despite abundant evidence of rhetorical action, it could not be excluded that its presumed effects may have been spurious or redundant given superior US power in the alliance. By contrast, the EU case study demonstrated the effectiveness of rhetorical action in a decision-making situation in which the shamers held the inferior bargaining position. The pro-enlargement coalition – consisting of the CEECs, a group of those EU member governments that were most likely to benefit from enlargement and policy entrepreneurs in the Commission – strategically used arguments based on the identity, ideology, values, norms and past practice of the EU to

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