Sovereignty and the Development of EU

Topics: European Union, European Economic Community, Council of the European Union Pages: 2 (580 words) Published: July 22, 2008
Within the international system, sovereignty is the term used when the state is able to possess full autonomy whilst accepting mutual recognition of other claims to sovereignty. ‘Internationally, sovereignty served as the basis of legal equality, and therefore as the basis of diplomacy and international law.’ (McLean and McMillan 2005: 503). When looking at this concept with regard to the development of the European Union and the pooling of sovereignty within the member states, it is important to consider how significant sovereignty is to individual states. Ernst Haas’ theory of neofunctionalism can be considered when discussing the effects of European integration. Neofunctionalism aimed to explain ‘how and why states voluntarily mingle, merge and mix with their neighbours so as to lose the factual attributes of sovereignty while acquiring new techniques for resolving conflict between themselves’(Haas 1970:610). However, this idea was criticised by Stanley Hoffman (1964; 1966), who used more realist assumptions regarding the roles of states. This counter argument was coined ‘intergovernmentalism’. For Hoffman there were three main points of argument against Haas’ ‘neofunctionalism’. One of them being the criticism that ‘national governments were uniquely powerful actors in the process of European integration: they controlled the nature and pace of integration guided by their concern to protect and promote the ‘national interest’ (Bache and George 2006: 12). The creation of the EU however, can be said to go further than that of intergovernmentalism, and is more commonly described as being a ‘supranational’ organisation. Although it can be debated as to whether a supranational institution is beneficial for the national interest of the member states, Hoffman’s theory claims that when the powers of a supranational body, in this case the EU, increases, it does so because the governments of the member states themselves believe this power gain to be in their national...
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