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Factors Impacting European Integration

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Politics
Wordcount: 3556 words Published: 16th Mar 2021

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Q1. What Impact did Charles de Gaulle have on European Integration in the 1960s?

Charles de Gaulle had a vibrant idea for the European Union after the Second World War; a period where the European States were weakened by war, and American influence in Europe was rising. The influence of the United States in Europe after WWII was made even greater following the Marshall plan where economic and development aid was given to European countries struggling to rebuild after the war (Gaffney, 2010). The relationship between Great Britain and the United States was also worrisome as the two continued to have close trade and diplomatic ties after the war.

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De Gaulle called himself the only true European in some instances with his main preoccupation being focused towards integration in the EU. Trade and economic integration were his main area of focus with him actively pushing for policies in the 1960s that led to the development of a single market in the European region (Wahl and Paxton, 1994). However, despite being at the forefront of European integration, he spoke very vehemently against political integration or the notion of supranationality. The idea of supranationality requires individual European states to relinquish their distinct nationalities and adopt European nationality (Wahl and Paxton, 1994).

According to de Gaulle, supranationality was an active threat to Europe since it would give the United States increased influence over Europe. He rejected the influence of Americans in Europe by reducing the power of American allies in Europe, Such as the U.K. As the U.K. was considering to join the common market between 1963 and 1967, they received opposition mainly from de Gaulle and France. The application of the U.K. was backed by the US, and they perceived this as a threat with more influence being given to foreigners (Archer, 2008). Another American threat came in the form of NATO. The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation is an association which requires military cooperation of Western European states and the United States in matters of mutual interest (Ludlow, 2006). The presence of this organisation prompted de Gaulle to begin working on a Consolidated Defence Policy for Europe (Ludlow, 2006).

He further rejected American influence during the 1960s by undermining the bipolar segmentation of the world during the Cold War. This was a period of ideological differences between the west who were promoting liberalism and democracy against the east that was promoting socialism and centralised control of the economy. He claimed that Europe was one entity stretching from the Atlantic to the Urals without looking at any ideological differences among the states (Pinder, 1985).

In January 1962, he caused a stir by rejecting the idea of political integration in Europe. He recognised that a politically united Europe is one that’ll be controlled by the US, and there cannot be any Europe other than that which is controlled by the European Nation States (Garros et al., 1918). By the end of his term, the European Economic Commission had already been ratified by the member states of the European Union. He, therefore, managed to push for more integration among European states and to avoid American influence.


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Q2. Why is the Introduction of the Single Market seen as such a Defining Moment in European Integration?

The creation of a single market is the removal of all barriers to trade as well as barricades to the movement of factors of production (Puchala, 1999). The single markets are the second step of economic integration after the Free Trade Area (FTA). The implementation of the FTA allows people to trade freely across the European Union territory. This means that all barriers to the movement of finished goods are removed (Puchala, 1999). In the single market economy, integration is taken further by removing barriers to the movement of all factors of production across state lines. Factors of production include capital, labour, and entrepreneurship which are portable.

Introducing a single market is a defining moment for integration in the European Union as it sets up the stage for monetary integration. Monetary integration came up as a direct need of the single market economy that was introduced all over the continent (Moss, 2004). This made the trade to be much easier among member states which led to a bulk of trade using different currencies. Ultimately, the trade required hefty levels of foreign trade that led to inflation and deflation of some currencies (Cini and Borragán, 2016). Therefore, ultimately, the member states felt the need for monetary union in Eder to carry out trade in a much more seamless manner.

The monetary union that followed the single market also set the stage for further integration into a political union. However, the integration of the European states into a political union is unlikely due to the preference of nationalism over supranationality that the member states will have to adapt to be integrated politically (Dedman, 2009). The monetary union has also brought rise to more suspicions regarding the fiscal ability of smaller member states to maintain borrowing at the rate of the union (El-Agraa, 1998). Some states were unable to alter their fiscal and monetary policies like devaluation of the currency to control the rate of local borrowing ended up having trouble within their economies.

The union of the market in Europe led to the integration of a population of almost 500 million individuals into a single market. This opened up businesses to new markets and people to more variety. Ultimately, this moment is defining for integration as it opened up the continent to the benefits of economic integration (Kaiser et al., 2008). It also enabled consumers to have a variety of choice and competition, which led to refining of the products to have the best quality merchandises. Therefore, the single market was significant for integration based on the personalised benefits it had for consumers, and the way it drove for further amalgamation. The monetary union was achieved in less than two decades after the single market as member states were all aware of the benefits of more integration (Olsen and McCormick, 2018). However, with more integration, there are hurdles that the states have to move past, such as those of nationalism and what this means to total political European integration.


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  • Puchala, D.J., 1999. Institutionalism, intergovernmentalism and European integration: a review article. J. Common Mkt. Stud., 37, p.317.

Q3. How are the Large Member States Represented in EU Institutions and Decision-making Processes?

The European Union is made up of various bodies that take up different responsibilities of the union. When a state is admitted into the EU fully, it is given a seat in the Council of European Union and the European Council (Everling, 1992). Each member state also has representation in all institutions of the European Union. Within the council, the consensus is the most preferred system of voting since it allows for more cohesion among member states as all affiliates are involved. However, finding consensus among all member states can be impossible especially when differing states hold opposing positions. In such a situation, the council uses weighted voting. Weighted voting is calculated depending on the size of the country’s population, with more people requiring more weight in the voting (Pinder, 1991).

The European Parliament is the legislative body of the organisation. It has the mandate to create and amend policies and laws that affect member states equally and override their local state legislations. The EP is made up of members from the nation-states within the EU (Lenaerts et al., 2008). These member states are therefore the ones that make decisions in the parliament based on weighted votes. Here, a member state that has a larger population is given more representation than those that have a smaller population. However, the number is not directly proportional to smaller nation-states getting more seats per inhabitant than larger states (Lenaerts et al., 2008). Members of the EP were chosen based on the appointment by their local national parliaments and seconding of the union until 1976 where members were chosen based on universal suffrage to the European cause (Bretherton and Vogler, 2005)

The national government of each member state is given the opportunity to have a representative within the European Commission, the European Court of Justice and the European Court of Auditors (Chalmers et al., 2019). Representation was not always equal within these bodies, and larger states had an extra commissioner. However, that is no longer the case, and every state enjoys equal representation. The six largest European states are, however, granted more representation in the Court of Justice by having an Advocate General (Chalmers et al., 2019).

In decision-making, larger states still carry more immensity based on the weighted voting system used, especially in the EP. However, smaller states have grown in significance, especially as mediators and facilitators of any conflict or disagreement that may arise among the bigger states (Marks et al., 1996). This has led to the appointment of members from smaller states into sensitive positions in the union to prevent any competition among the larger states. Therefore, where larger states enjoy representation in the parliament where they can control many aspects of decision-making in the organisation, smaller states are not neglected as they have more power in sensitive matters that may bring up conflict. For instance, the presidency of the union is a rotational position that is changed after every six months to allow more participation of smaller states in agenda-setting and driving the mandate of the union (Dinan, 2000).


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Q4. How well does Neo-functionalism explain European Integration in the 1990s?

Neo-functionalism is a school of thought that views integration as a direct effect of the needs of individual member states (Rosamond, 2000). This theory view states as having national interests that often intertwine and overlap with each other on economic and political matters. As the states feel the need to integrate, they do so at their own pace without the need for force or coercion (Rosamond, 2000). Neo-functionalism has been evident in the creation of the European Union from its inception. As the states saw the need for cooperation on the trade of key infrastructural raw materials such as steel and coal, they realised that working together has a lot of mutual benefits for economic growth (Risse, 2005).

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This led to more integration into the European Economic Council, which was ratified in the late 1960s. The economic council removed all barriers to trade and the movement of the factors of production (Jensen, 2013). Ultimately, this encouraged trade as the companies had access to a much wider client base. However, immense cross border trade led to the need for a standardised currency to carry out trade in a more seamless manner (Hooghe and Marks, 2006). The need for a monetary union was evident by the end of the 1980s where some countries around Germany who were trading with the state decided to synchronise their monetary policies with those of the state to fewer interruptions to trade (Jensen, 2013).

This demonstrates clearly how neo-functionalism spilt into the 1990s with the need for monetary and fiscal cooperation among the states. In the period between 1992 and 2002, the states were able to standardise their market to use a common currency across Europe (Niemann, 2006). The euro was adopted as the common currency for trade both locally and internationally. The monetary union further facilitated trade making it easier to trade across barriers without the need for exchanging currencies.

However, this brought rise to issues around the fiscal union. Having a monetary union requires that all aspects of borrowing are handled centrally, and this disempowered a state to be able to control its economy (Chandler et al., 2012).

After the monetary and fiscal union, scholars anticipate having political union within the continent. However, the possibility of such a union is not high based on the lack of necessity for it. An economic union was endorsed by member states since they could all engage in trade and benefit themselves and their economies. However, politically, there is little incentive for gain to push for further integration. There has also been a rise in nationalism in recent years which triggered the exit of member states such as Britain. As more states continue to become nationalist, the pace of integration lingers to slow down since member states do not foresee any more benefits that can come from integration. Therefore, neo-functionalism is still relevant in explaining integration in the 1990s up to date, and it can be used to show how the pace of integration has slowed down since the member states do not perceive any more benefits from further integration (Sandholtz and Sweet, 2012).


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Q5. What is the Main Contribution of Constructivism to the Study of the European Union?

Constructivism is a theory that attempts to take the middle way between traditional rationalistic theories and more contemporary reflectivist theories (Jupille et al., 2003). Where rationalistic theories like liberalism and realism sought to explain phenomena by making assumption about the international system, constructivism does not make any such assumptions about the system as being a static environment. It recognises that relationships are always changing based on external circumstances, and they are these vicissitudes in the relationships that affect how states interact with each other, and the identity that they adopt. Therefore, instead of making assumptions about the international system like realism which would claim that the system is anarchic, constructivists understand that the system does not operate within a vacuum, and it is a direct product of the actions and relationships of the member states (Risse, 2004). Therefore, depending on the policies and interests of states, they can come together to eliminate the anarchy.

The actions that a state chooses to accumulate to form its identity and personality in the international arena. Other states will then relate to a country based on its identity as well as the nature of their relationship. As the actions of a state differ based on the reigning regime, so does the identity of the state (Koslowski, 1999).

Social constructivism has greatly contributed to the study of international relations by having a balanced paradigm of explaining phenomena. It is better able to depict circumstances as they are, most likely to occur in the international arena. Therefore, it is possible to explain phenomena based on the current circumstances around an occurrence rather than focusing on assumptions (Checkel and Moravcsik, 2001). Rationalistic theories of the old days like liberalism and realism did not give such a dynamic possibility for state behaviour. Therefore, state interests are not static, and they are not always anchored on issues of security (Pollack, 2001).

Social constructivism ascertains that interests are socially constructed, and, thus, they shift depending on the identity of a state as well as the nature of the relationship between states. Therefore, America may be interested in North Korea for security reasons based on its robust nuclear testing. However, the United States has completely different interests in the European Union, where they are establishing trade and economic ties (Mangenot and Rowell, 2010). The theory of constructivism has, therefore, contributed to the study of the EU by making it more dynamic. In a dynamic environment, the behaviour of each member state affects the whole community, and it leads to a change in the identity of community and the relationships. This is much more effective in studying the interests of the individual member states, and how evolving interests have led to the development of the union and more integrations. It would be impossible to carry this out with other theories since they are too static, and they do not explain phenomena in a social manner, which is what the EU requires to explain; the dynamic relationships (Jørgensen et al., 2007).


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