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Dynamic Multi-Level Governance – Bringing the Study of Multi-level Interactions into the Theorising of European Integration

Keywords: integration theory , neo-functionalism , intergovernmentalism , multilevel governance , negative integration , positive integration , social policy , political science

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This article aims to fill a gap in the theoretical literature on European integration by providing a dynamic and multi-level explanatory framework of the dynamics of European integration – defined as the locus of governance shifts from the national to the European level. While with the development of governance approaches, the multi-actorness of the EU has been taken into account, the objective of understanding how interactions between different actors explain dynamics of integration has been abandoned. Thus, the article shows that by focusing on dynamic patterns of interaction between subnational, state and supranational actors, some core dynamics of the European integration process can be better captured. A dynamic and multi-level model of interaction, termed ‘reversed intergovernmentalism’, is proposed here. The model posits that governments’ intervention at the EU level often takes place as a reaction to developments orchestrated by Community institutions, but that, through their reaction, states in turn foster both the process of integration and another form of EU intervention in such a way that the very nature of EU integration can also divert from initial EU agendas. Setting itself against existing theories of European integration, the argument shows that integration dynamics can only be fully understood within a process of interaction and reciprocal feedback between actors at different levels of governance.


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