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The European Regional Integration in the IR Literature:A Review of Scholarly Support and Opposition

DOI: 10.4236/ojpp.2011.12015, PP. 90-101

Keywords: Regional Integration, Federalism, Supranationalism, Intergovernmentalism

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Abstract:

Most of what has been written on the ECSC/ EEC/ EC/ EU, has not been done by international relations (IR) theorists, but by comparativists, sociologists, historians, anthropologists, legal scholars, and many others. These writings are in general classified as intergovernmentalist, federalist, and supranationalist (functionalist and neo- functionalist) in most accounts of the theoretical perspectives on the EU (Webb 1983, Rosamond 2000). Wiener and Diez 2004 add a rational choice institutional category, as well, as they think that the policy analysis within the polity developed into an autonomous brand of literature. It is only Andrew Hurrell in his chapter in Fawcett and Hurrell 1995, who makes an attempt to present the EU, as a regional integration, from the point of view of diverse IR approaches. Drawing on his classification scheme, I conduct an inquiry of the IR theories about European unification from the point of view of whether they allow for the iteration of the European experience in other parts of the world or not. The basic conclusion is that almost all IR work on Europe falls in the inter- governmentalist category, which tends to conceptualize the European Union as representing an n of 1. (Inter- governmentalism is the choice of realism and neo-realism, English School, and neoliberal institutionalism.) Within the liberal IR paradigm, there is a tension between law-focused and security-focused approaches, on the one hand, and economic approaches, on the other. The first believe in the possibility of multiple integrations, while the latter does not think that they are desirable. Critical theories are also hindered by divergent normative commitments, though the class-based theorizing is very clear about pursuing the social control of markets.

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