Neo-functionalism explains the integration of the European Union

The two main competing theories of EU integration are Neo-functionalism and Intergovernmentalism. Although these theories have been heavily criticised, amended or even abandoned, they do contain two strong theoretical integration arguments.

Firstly, Neo-functionalism was developed in the second half of the 1950s and is the first, ‘classical’ grand theory/narrative of European integration. It is a theory of regional integration, building on the work of Ernst B. Haas, an American political scientist and Leon Lindberg, also an American political scientist. Jean Monnet's approach to European integration, which aimed at integrating individual sectors in hopes of achieving spill-over effects. The core of Neo-functionalism is the use of the concept of ‘spill-over’. The process of ‘spill-over’ refers to situations when an initial decision by governments to place a certain sector under the authority of central institutions creates pressures to extend the authority of the institutions into neighbouring areas of policy, such as currency exchange rates, taxation, and wages. This core claim meant that European integration is self-sustaining: ‘spill-over’ triggers the economic and political dynamics driving further cooperation. Haas later declared the theory of Neo-functionalism obsolete, after the process of European integration started stalling in the 1960s, when Charles de Gaulle's ‘empty chair’[1] politics paralyzed the institutions of the European Coal and Steel Community, European Economic Community, and European Atomic Energy Community. Neo-functionalism proposed the concept of ‘spill-over’ - 'Integration within one sector will tend to beget its own impetus and spread to other sectors.[2]

 Intergovernmentalism was developed in the mid-1960s and initially proposed by Stanley Hoffmann. It suggests that national governments control the level and speed of European integration. The theory proposed the Logic of Diversity, which 'set limits to the degree which the ‘spill-over’ process can limit the freedom of action of the governments...the logic of diversity implies that on vital issues, losses are not compensated by gains on other issues'.[3] Any increase in power at supranational level, he argues, results from a direct decision by governments. He believed that integration, driven by national governments, was often based on the domestic political and economic issues of the day. The theory rejects the concept of the spill-over effect that Neo-functionalism proposes. He also rejects the idea that supranational organisations are on an equal level (in terms of political influence) as national governments.[4]

This debate is intended to look at the core points of each theory, where they differ and which is the more convincing argument?

 

[1] Ludlow, N. Piers, ‘De-commissioning the Empty Chair Crisis : the Community institutions and the crisis of 1965-6’, LSE Research Online, 2007, http://web.archive.org/web/20071025203706/http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/2422/01/Decommisioningempty.pdf

[2] Tranholm-Mikkelsen, Jeppe, ‘Neo-functionalism: Obstinate or Obsolete? A Reappraisal in the Light of the New Dynamism of the EC’, Millennium - Journal of International Studies, Vol. 20, No. 1, pp.1-22, http://mil.sagepub.com/content/20/1/1.extract

[3] Hoffmann, S. ‘Obstinate or obsolete? The fate of the nation-state and the case of Western Europe.’, Daedalus, Vol. 95, No. 3, 1966, pp. 862-915, p882

[4] Wikipedia, ‘Intergovernmentalism’, en.wikipedia.org, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intergovernmentalism

 

Title 
Neo-functionalism explains the cause of integration
Point 

Spill-over is the following concept – in order to enjoy the full benefits of integration of the first sector you need to integrate the related sectors. An example of this is the ECSC (European Coal and Steel Community) evolving into other energy sectors and forming Euratom. There are three types of spill-over – functional spill-over, political spill-over and cultivated spill-over. Firstly, functional spill-over, which regards spill-over in an economic context. For example, this might involve integrating coal and steel, then integrating transport systems so that coal and steel are moved around more easily. Secondly, there is Political spill-over, where political actors shift their allegiance to a new centre, for example from the national parliament to Brussels. Thirdly, there is cultivated spill-over, which is the idea that institutions drive further integration by being in practice; for example the European Commission’s growing autonomy.[1]

 

[1] Tranholm-Mikkelsen, Jeppe "Neo-functionalism: Obstinate or Obsolete? A Reappraisal in the Light of the New Dynamism of the EC Millennium - Journal of International Studies, Vol. 20, No. 1, pp.1-22, http://www.df.lth.se/~cml/spill-over.txt

Counterpoint 

The counter theory to spill-over is the logic of diversity. Neo-functionalism is flawed as it assumes that integration in low politics (economic) will lead to integration in areas of high politics. This is not possible as issues of high politics are integral to the national interest; so integration will only be possible when national interests coincide, which is possible but unlikely. Neo-functionalism believes areas of high politics can be cultivated into integration, whereas intergovernmentalism believes that the fate of the nation-state should never be subject to the decisions of others.

Title 
Neo-functionalism proposes a purpose to EU integration.
Point 

Neo-functionalism proposed building a community Europe, through the concept of spillover the theory proposes economic determinism. Spill-over will eventually lead to a completely integrated Europe with a strong central government. This has not yet been proved true, as EU integration has become a long and difficult process. This is understandable since it is not exactly easy to integrate together all those policies, economies and people. However this would most probably be the eventual result, which is already visible: The experience of the European Union (EU) is widely perceived as not just an example, but the model for regional integration. In recent years, the EU has also been pursuing an increasing number of trade agreements which may in turn lead to spillover.[1] Furthermore the recent enlargements of the EU in Eastern Europe, as well as the ongoing negotiations with Croatia and Turkey have renewed the academic and political interest in the effects of European Economic integration.[2]

One of the theory’s strengths is to predict the outcome of integration and an eventual conclusion to the process, allowing for political and economic aims to be made and realised. For example ‘Larger companies have been acting on the assumption that the internal market will eventually be established’.[3]

 

[1] Bilal, Sanoussi, ‘Can the EU Be a Model of Regional Integration?’, Paper to be presented at the CODESRIA - Globalisation Studies Network (GSN), 29-31 August 2005, http://www.ecdpm.org/Web_ECDPM/Web/Content/Download.nsf/0/52D667FD6C95057DC125719D004B65F6/$FILE/Bilal%20-%20Can%20EU%20be%20a%20model%20of%20RI%20Draft%20for%20comments.pdf

[2] Lafourcade, Miren, and Paluzie, Elisenda, ‘European Integration, FDI and the Internal Geography of Trade: Evidence from Western-European Border Regions’, 23 December 2004, www.cepr.org/RESEARCH/Networks/TID/Paluzie.pdf

[3] Tranholm-Mikkelsen, Jeppe, ‘Neo-functionalism: Obstinate or Obsolete? A Reappraisal in the Light of the New Dynamism of the EC’, Millennium - Journal of International Studies, Vol. 20, No. 1, pp.1-22, http://mil.sagepub.com/content/20/1/1.extract

Counterpoint 

Neo-functionalism believes in building a community Europe, but then the question is raised, what is the purpose of this new entity? There is no common outlook and getting the major powers of Europe to agree what this should be will be near impossible. Intergovernmentalists would also argue that economic determinism regarding integration is wrong. As they believe national governments have to consciously make these decisions and will not be economically driven alone, ‘Extensive cooperation is not at all ruled out: on the contrary, such cooperation will benefit all participants as long as it corresponds to and enhances mutual interests’. It will always be politics that drive integration, while the motive may be economic – to solve a crisis or even just to profit – the key decisions by all actors will be political.[1]

 

[1] Martell, Luke, ‘Globalisation and Economic Determinism’, Paper given at Global Studies Association conference, Challenging Globalization, September 2009, www.sussex.ac.uk/Users/ssfa2/globecdet.pdf, p.4

Title 
Neo-functionalism - liberal theory of regional integration
Point 

Neo-functionalism is an example of a liberal theory of regional integration. Its focus is on human welfare needs, not political conflict and law. Its focus is on individuals aggregated into interest groups as the main actors in integration,  so the focus is on low politics and the areas which become integrated in the European Union reflect that. As such there has been much more progress on economic integration than there has on creating a common foreign and security policy.[1]

 It also accepts the independent role of international organisations and that the transformation of the international regional system towards a better order is feasible so making the European Union a project worth investing effort in.

 

[1] Center for European studies, ‘European Union –Common Foreign and Security Policy’, unc.edu, http://www.unc.edu/depts/europe/conferences/eu/Cfsp/cfsp1.html

Counterpoint 

Intergovernmentalism assumes states to be the core actors, this is difficult to deny as most economic boundaries and policies are administered by the nation state. It believes that the logic of diversity will prevail in areas of high politics (e.g. security), however it does accept the logic of integration in low politics, that when interests coincide integration is possible (when there is consensus among elites, similar external situations and domestic politics situations). Intergovernmentalism does not allow for the idealist aim of transforming the regional system to a ‘better’ order as what qualifies as ‘better’? The logic of diversity denies the possibility of states agreeing on what is ‘better’.

Title 
Neo-functionalism provides a good starting point for EU analysis.
Point 

Neo-functionalism is an accessible theory which provides a good starting point for analysis. As a theory it has the advantages of being able to predict the outcome of integration and clearly explains which actors must be studied in order to explain integration. Haas and Lindberg’s “main thesis was that sectorial integration was inherently expansive - integration of some functional tasks would tend to spill over into

integration of other tasks(…) In the basis of this analysis, Haas argued that an acceleration of the

integration process could be 'safely predicted' and that it might lead to a 'political community of Europe' within a decade”.[1]

 

[1] Tranholm-Mikkelsen, Jeppe "Neo-functionalism: Obstinate or Obsolete? A Reappraisal in the Light of the New Dynamism of the EC Millennium - Journal of International Studies, Vol. 20, No. 1, pp.1-22, http://www.df.lth.se/~cml/spill-over.txt

Counterpoint 

Neo-functionalism is too simple, it does not account for external forces well, as some states have better defined their international position more towards US hegemony than towards each other. “Whereas in economic issues (soft power) the EU has been able to respond to the US in trade disputes, in political and security affairs (hard power) the panorama is mostly discouraging“.[1] Intergovernmentalism rejects economic determinism and therefore rejects Neo-functionalism’s ability to predict. Neo-functionalism may provide a starting point for analysis but it requires much more to be able to explain other pressures of integration.

 

[1] Dominguez-Rivera, Roberto, ‘Dealing with the U.S. hegemony: soft and hard power in the external relations of the EU’, 8th International Conference of the European Union Studies Association, 27 March 2003, http://aei.pitt.edu/6481/1/000459_1.PDF

Title 
Supranational Entrepreneurs played a crucial role in integration
Point 

The role of supranational entrepreneurs within the development of integration within Europe has been crucial. Characters such as Jean Monnet envisaged and worked continuously towards uniting Europe. As the head of France's General Planning Commission, Monnet was the real author of what has become known as the 1950 Schuman Plan to create the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC), forerunner of the Common Market. Later a similar role was played by Jacques Delors with the creation of the Single European Act (SEA) and the all-important 1992 project that would see the single market and eventually fully Economic and Monetary Union complete. These characters act in support of integration within Europe and represent an empirical example of cultivated spill-over. Unmitigated pressure from Delors in pushing for the single market ensured that it became a reality in the time it did.

Counterpoint 

The role of elites acting in their national interest better explains the logic behind integration. Key players such as Charles De Gaulle and his untiring opposition to British membership and Qualified Majority Voting (QMV) in the Council of Ministers and his success in gaining what he set out to achieve through the Luxembourg compromise demonstrates that the true power actually lay with him and the state. Another example to contradicting the role Delors played was that of Margaret Thatcher. Her relentless demand for a British rebate (1979) and general demeanour in the European Council demonstrated a powerful state elite getting her way. The single market came about because Thatcher wanted it more than most and was thus willing to compromise on certain areas of the Single European Act (i.e. on QMV in the Council of Ministers).[1] It is because of this that the role of individual elites is far superior to that of supranational entrepreneurs.

 

[1] Dinan, Desmond, ‘The Single European Act’, European Union Centre of Excellence, http://euce.dal.ca/Files/Dinan_SEA_paper.pdf

Title 
The assumption of the automaticity of Spill-over is wrong.
Point 

The core of Neo-functionalism that spill-over being the main driving force behind continuing integration assumed the automaticity of integration. Once integration has started it will be a self-continuing force that will eventually integrate the whole of Europe - is clearly wrong. Supranational functionalism 'assumed first, that national sovereignty, already devalued by events, could be chewed up leaf by leaf like an artichoke'.[1] The functional method of spill-over is very limited, its success in the relatively painless area in which it works relatively well lifts the participants to the level of issues to which it does not apply well any more. For example no common defence or foreign policy within the community project has been successful. This failure in high politics is fundamental, without a coordinated foreign and security policy the role of the EU in the world is open to question. Opposition too much further enlargement reduces the role the EU can play outside the union unless a common foreign policy can be agreed.[2]

 

[1] Hoffmann, S. ‘Obstinate or obsolete? The fate of the nation-state and the case of Western Europe.’, Daedalus, Vol. 95, No. 3, 1966, pp. 862-915, p882

[2] Pabst, Adrian, ‘The EU as a Security/Defence Community?’, Luxembourg Institute for European and International Studies, 2/3 July 2004, http://www.ieis.lu/CONTENT%20of%20new%20Website/NEW%20Executive%20Summaries/PDF-Format/exs%204,%20EU%20as%20Security-Defence%20Community.pdf

Counterpoint 

Ernst B. Haas was the founder of Neo-functionalism in 1951, Jeppe Tranholm-Mikkelsen identified the 3 types of spill-over within the theory. However neither author placed a time limit on how long the integration process would take. The revival of European integration in 1985 shows it may be many years between instances when Neo-functionalism is an adequate theory for explaining integration. This may be equally coming true in the financial crisis as the Euro is necessitating further reforms and may well lead to much greater integration in order to have the tools prevent members being forced out. The political spill-over concept makes account for the fact that national elites 'will undergo a learning process, developing the perception that their interests will be better served by seeking supranational than national solutions'.[1]

 

[1] Tranholm-Mikkelsen, Jeppe, ‘Neo-functionalism: Obstinate or Obsolete? A Reappraisal in the Light of the New Dynamism of the EC’, Millennium - Journal of International Studies, Vol. 20, No. 1, pp.1-22, http://mil.sagepub.com/content/20/1/1.extract

Title 
The Founder of Neo-functionalism abandoned his own Theory (Haas).
Point 

The Founder of Neo-functionalist theory Ernst B. Haas later abandoned his own theory; According to Tranholm-Mikkelsen (1991)- “By the mid-1970 s, Ernst Haas had effectively abandoned the neo-functionalist theory by assimilating it within general interdependence theories of international relations”.[1] The theory proved a success in the economic realm but a fiasco in high politics; “…at the time of the ‘empty chair’ crisis [see next point] neo-functionalism was considered too incapable of describing the process of integration in general because of its extreme Eurocentric nature. Rosamond states that it is emerged from the process of complex web of actors pursuing their interests within a pluralist political environment.”[2]  Neo-functionalism remained a partial theory, good at explaining particular parts of integration but required supplanting by other theories to keep it relevant.

 

[1] Tranholm-Mikkelsen, Jeppe, ‘Neo-functionalism: Obstinate or Obsolete? A Reappraisal in the Light of the New Dynamism of the EC’, Millennium - Journal of International Studies, Vol. 20, No. 1, pp.1-22, http://mil.sagepub.com/content/20/1/1.extract

[2] ‘European Political Theories: Neo – functionalism’, May 2011, http://testpolitics.pbworks.com/w/page/25795541/Neo%20-%20functionalism

Counterpoint 

Intergovernmentalism too has proved 'out of date'. It fails to pay enough attention to supranational institutions; its focus is too exclusively on big treaty negotiations and fails to understand to increasing importance of economic issues. Intergovernmentalism as a theory collapses in the view of actual integration taking place: the revival of integration from mid-1980s onwards. In the 1990s Intergovernmentalism was supplanted by 'Liberal Intergovernmentalism' from the scholar Andrew Moravcsik in his work 'Preferences and Power in the European Community: A liberal Intergovernmentalist Approach' (1993).[1]

 

[1] Moravcsik, Andrew, ‘Preferences and Power in the European Community: A Liberal Intergovernmentalist Approach’, Journal of Common Market Studies (30th Anniversary Edition) (December 1993). http://www.princeton.edu/~amoravcs/library/preferences1.pdf

Title 
The Empty Chair Crisis 1965
Point 

In 1965 during the Empty Chair Crisis brought integration came to a halt and shifted the institutional balance of power away from the commission to the Council of Ministers, it shows that spillover will not always occur.[1] It was caused by President de Gaulle of France being in conflict with other member states, specifically Germany and Italy. France wanted a deal on the Common Agricultural Policy but was unwilling to agree to further integration through creating majority voting in the Council of Ministers.  When France took on the Presidency the normal system of mediation was lost. Bonn and Rome were unwilling to give way.[2] De Gaulle pulled his ministers out of the Council of Ministers thus reasserting the power of national governments. This showed that states would not automatically be prepared to give up their national sovereignty and might of helped lead to the abandonment of Neo-functionalism in the 1970s.

 

[1] Moga, Teodor Lucian, ‘The Contribution of the Neofunctionalist and Intergovernmentalist Theories to the Evolution of the European Integration Process’, Journal of Alternative Perspectives in the Social Sciences, Vol. 1, No. 3, 2009 pp.796-807, http://www.japss.org/upload/14._Mogaarticle.pdf, p.799

[2] Ludlow, N. Piers, ‘De-commissioning the Empty Chair Crisis : the Community institutions and the crisis of 1965-6’, LSE Research Online, 2007, http://web.archive.org/web/20071025203706/http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/2422/01/Decommisioningempty.pdf

Counterpoint 

The Empty Chair Crisis of 1965 may lead some to presume that National governments are all powerful, but it may have just been a ‘speed-bump’ on the road of spillover. Ben Rosamond (2005)[1] did a reassessment of Haas and concluded that he never abandoned Neofunctionalism; he just changed it and accepted more the view of ‘Complex Interdependence’. The revival of integration since 1985 including the Treaty of Maastricht 1991 led to co-decision procedures which are an example of Political spillover as political decisions and procedure moved to the supranational level.

 

[1] Rosamond, Ben, 'The Uniting of Europe and the Foundations of EU Studies: Revisiting the Neofunctionalism of Enrst B. Haas', Journal of European Public Policy, Vol. 12, No. 2, 2005, pp. 237-254, http://wrap.warwick.ac.uk/1076/

Title 
The international system is characterised by anarchy and the distribution of economic and military capabilities
Point 

Stanley Hoffman used a Neo-Realist view of International relations to build the theory of intergovernmentalism. In a neo-realist understanding the international system is characterised by anarchy and the distribution of economic and military capabilities is of primary importance. States will not trust each other but can still reach agreement, but the agreement will be characterised by bargaining and negotiation (not an automatic process!) ‘Nations prefer the certainty, or the self-controlled uncertainty, of national self-reliance, to the uncontrolled uncertainty of the untested blender’.[1]

 

[1] Wikipedia, ‘Intergovernmentalism’, en.wikipedia.org, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intergovernmentalism

Counterpoint 

Neo-functionalism has a liberal view of the international system; whereby agreements can be easily reached.

Actually the European Union has proven the exact opposite of the statement – “Nations prefer the certainty, or the self-controlled uncertainty, of national self-reliance, to the uncontrolled uncertainty of the untested blender” as they give more and more power to the united institutions of the European Union – the European Commission and the European Parliament. The most recent treaty, the Lisbon treaty, proves this as it gives more rights to the EU on account of national power Lisbon’ gives the European Parliament a much greater say in the EU’s decision-making process, it reduced national vetos, created a president and a representative for foreign affairs.[1]

 

[1] Europa, ‘Treaty of Lisbon: The Treaty at a glance’, Europa.eu, http://europa.eu/lisbon_treaty/glance/index_en.htm

Bibliography 

Tranholm-Mikkelsen, Jeppe, ‘Neo-functionalism: Obstinate or Obsolete? A Reappraisal in the Light of the New Dynamism of the EC’, Millennium - Journal of International Studies, Vol. 20, No. 1, pp.1-22, http://mil.sagepub.com/content/20/1/1.extract

Hoffmann, S. ‘Obstinate or obsolete? The fate of the nation-state and the case of Western Europe.’, Daedalus, Vol. 95, No. 3, 1966, pp. 862-915,

Wikipedia, ‘Intergovernmentalism’, en.wikipedia.org, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intergovernmentalism

Tranholm-Mikkelsen, Jeppe "Neo-functionalism: Obstinate or Obsolete? A Reappraisal in the Light of the New Dynamism of the EC Millennium - Journal of International Studies, Vol. 20, No. 1, pp.1-22, http://www.df.lth.se/~cml/spill-over.txt

Martell, Luke, ‘Globalisation and Economic Determinism’, Paper given at Global Studies Association conference, Challenging Globalization, September 2009, www.sussex.ac.uk/Users/ssfa2/globecdet.pdf

Dominguez-Rivera, Roberto, ‘Dealing with the U.S. hegemony: soft and hard power in the external relations of the EU’, 8th International Conference of the European Union Studies Association, 27 March 2003, http://aei.pitt.edu/6481/1/000459_1.PDF

Pabst, Adrian, ‘The EU as a Security/Defence Community?’, Luxembourg Institute for European and International Studies, 2/3 July 2004, http://www.ieis.lu/CONTENT%20of%20new%20Website/NEW%20Executive%20Summaries/PDF-Format/exs%204,%20EU%20as%20Security-Defence%20Community.pdf

Ludlow, N. Piers, ‘De-commissioning the Empty Chair Crisis : the Community institutions and the crisis of 1965-6’, LSE Research Online, 2007, http://web.archive.org/web/20071025203706/http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/2422/01/Decommisioningempty.pdf

Moga, Teodor Lucian, ‘The Contribution of the Neofunctionalist and Intergovernmentalist Theories to the Evolution of the European Integration Process’, Journal of Alternative Perspectives in the Social Sciences, Vol. 1, No. 3, 2009 pp.796-807, http://www.japss.org/upload/14._Mogaarticle.pdf

Kramer,  N. Peter, ‘Lisbon Treaty: more power for the European Parliament’, European Business Review, 2 December 2009, http://www.europeanbusiness.gr/page.asp?pid=662

Bilal, Sanoussi, ‘Can the EU Be a Model of Regional Integration?’, Paper to be presented at the CODESRIA - Globalisation Studies Network (GSN), 29-31 August 2005, http://www.ecdpm.org/Web_ECDPM/Web/Content/Download.nsf/0/52D667FD6C95057DC125719D004B65F6/$FILE/Bilal%20-%20Can%20EU%20be%20a%20model%20of%20RI%20Draft%20for%20comments.pdf

Lafourcade, Miren, and Paluzie, Elisenda, ‘European Integration, FDI and the Internal Geography of Trade: Evidence from Western-European Border Regions’, 23 December 2004, www.cepr.org/RESEARCH/Networks/TID/Paluzie.pdf

Center for European studies, ‘European Union –Common Foreign and Security Policy’, unc.edu, http://www.unc.edu/depts/europe/conferences/eu/Cfsp/cfsp1.html  

 ‘European Political Theories: Neo – functionalism’, May 2011, http://testpolitics.pbworks.com/w/page/25795541/Neo%20-%20functionalism

Europa, ‘Treaty of Lisbon: The Treaty at a glance’, Europa.eu, http://europa.eu/lisbon_treaty/glance/index_en.htm

Dinan, Desmond, ‘The Single European Act’, European Union Centre of Excellence, http://euce.dal.ca/Files/Dinan_SEA_paper.pdf

Moravcsik, Andrew, ‘Preferences and Power in the European Community: A Liberal Intergovernmentalist Approach’, Journal of Common Market Studies (30th Anniversary Edition) (December 1993). http://www.princeton.edu/~amoravcs/library/preferences1.pdf

Rosamond, Ben, 'The Uniting of Europe and the Foundations of EU Studies: Revisiting the Neofunctionalism of Enrst B. Haas', Journal of European Public Policy, Vol. 12, No. 2, 2005, pp. 237-254, http://wrap.warwick.ac.uk/1076/

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