EU Integration Theories:Neo-Functionalism
“Any comprehensive theory of integration should potentially be a theory of disintegration.” (Schmitter, 2002: 4) Introduction
Neo-functionalism, as the first integration theory of EU to form a regional cooperation, is a theory of collective security and collective development but there was a compromise, a negative side: interdependence; sometimes `excessively´ to a supranational authority and the risk of by-passing of nation state. The balance of the scale was rather sensitive and it was both supported and rejected by many passionately. This paper tries to find an answer to the question “What is the significance of the neo-functionalist theory for integration process of the EU and what are the dynamics and causes of the decline in mid 1960s and its renaissance after 1980s?” and deals with the theory from a very limited perspective. Its predecessors and successors will be kept out of discussion but a closer view to the phases of neo-functionalism will be provided.
The main argument of this paper is that, in its first phase between 1950s until the mid 1960s, neo-functionalism suffered from abstraction of the power of nation state in a period in which supranational governance was not thoroughly internalized; whereas, with the deepening of integration process and theoretical contributions by scholars, enabled neo-functionalism to see the reality of integration through a more realist and mature perspective and to be more comprehensive in terms of realizing the power of myriads of actors in the integration process during its second phase after mid 1980s. In the first part, definition of neo-functionalism and its importance in the post WW II context will be given. In the second part, the theory will be elaborated with its core concepts and in the third part, criticisms of the theory will be given from both empirical and theoretical grounds. In the fourth and last part, the recent history of neo-functionalism will be evaluated and the revival period will be elabotared in connection with the recent aspects of European integration.
1. Definition of Neo-functionalism and its importance in the post WW II context The Europe after the two world wars had a catastrophic burden. Although numbers vary, around 35 million in the first and around 55 million casualties depicted the highest number of losses in the history of mankind. As a precursor to United Nations, League of Nations failed to prevent the road to the second world war primarily due to lacking an armed forces of its own; moreover, nation states hardly had the enthusiasm to support any formation that limited their sovereignty. The pain and destruction after the two wars created an incentive to cooperate for further economic and human losses. Neo-functionalism is conceptualized by Ernst B. Haas in this context to explain boosting of regional cooperation and create interdependence in such a way that any conflict would result in great economic losses, which prevents rational states from further conflicts. “Then came along the political project of creating a united Europe, which had the result of creating a myriad of institutions in which very, very many people participated. … These institutions developed a permanence through which both French and German … learned to do routine business with each other every day. A problem which they experienced was a common problem. … first comes the traumatic lesson, then comes the institution for learning to deal with each other” (Haas, 2000: 16 in Risse, 2004:1). The case of European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) was the example that Haas took to exemplify this cooperation to integration process. The ECSC was the first organisation based on supranational integration, with the states that composed them pooling a whole range of national powers (European Nagivator, The European Communities). Until it was merged to the European Commission in 1967, The High Authority governed the ECSC to...
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