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Политические аспекты европейской интеграции

Политические аспекты европейской интеграции


Political Aspects of European Integration


Has the EU reached the limits of integration?

By: Yaroslav Sinitsov, EUBL

Instructor: Desmond Dinan,

Visiting Professor, University of Amsterdam


Before answering this question, let us face some obvious facts. So far, the

European Union has been the most advanced and successful alliances of the

independent countries in the modern history. One cannot deny that it is

only the EU which established – at least in the first pillar – a new legal

order for its Member States, by which they voluntarily shared their

sovereignty based on the rule of law in order to achieve the common task,

as set forth by Article 2 of the Treaty Establishing the European

Community: ‘...to promote throughout the Community a harmonious and

balanced development of economic activities, sustainable and non-

inflationary growth respecting the environment, a high degree of

convergence of economic performance, a high level of employment and of

social protection, the raising of a standard of living and quality of life,

and economic and social cohesion and solidarity among Member States.’[i]

But as with any other international treaty, there is always room for

diversity in interpretation. If the right to interpret the Treaty

provisions and other Community legislation had been vested in Member

States, the EU would have been nothing different but just another

international treaty nicely falling within the general system of public

international law, where no contracting party can be bound against its

will. The EU is unique to have the European Court of Justice which, unlike

any other international tribunals, has a compulsory jurisdiction and an

exclusive authority to interpret the Community legislation – at least, with

respect to the first pillar of the EU. By widely interpreting the EC

legislation and relying not just on the text, but also on ‘the spirit’ of

the Treaty, the European Court of Justice has actually developed its own

doctrine which is now seen as one of the important sources of the Community

law. This doctrine has played a crucial role in implementing EU policies,

since the text of the Treaty and other Community legislation cannot cover

in detail all aspects of integration. Despite the instability of its

development, the EU remains by far more efficient that any other possible

alternatives. The EU is a major achievement and is still on the move. IGCs

being clearly inter-state negotiations bear little resemblance to classical

diplomatic conferences reviewing international treaties. European Treaty

reform ‘is perhaps better looked at as the constitutional process – with an

integral role being played by the representatives of the people, both at

national and European level.’[ii]

Why Integrate?

But why integrate? What made European governments act against their

cautious political interests? The answer was given by Jean Monnet, one of

the founding fathers of the European Communities and a lover of aphorisms:

‘People only accept changes when faced with necessity, and only recognise

necessity when the crisis is upon them’[iii]. I couldn’t agree more with

the first part of Monnet’s saying, but I would like to replace the word

‘only’ with the word ‘better’ in its second part. A deep crisis is probably

the most powerful impetus to bring peoples and countries together, although

not the only one. This is exactly what happened immediately after the World

War II. The need for fundamental political and economic change in Europe

was extremely strong. As the Cold War commenced and the Iron Curtain

abruptly divided the continent, integration became a means by which the

Western Europe could defend itself, in close co-operation with the United

States, against the external Soviet threat and the internal communist

threat. The need for a stronger and united Europe outweighed an initial

desire of the Allies to pasteurise Germany. A stronger Europe must have a

strong Western Germany. At that time the Europe was on the move to

integrate. And it has been on the move to integrate since then. However,

the dialectics of the integration has dramatically changed with the change

of the world affairs in the years 1989-1992. The old dialectics was that of

the Cold War, with the familiar and multiple interactions between the two

Europes, the two alliances and the two great powers. The new dialectics is

of a pan-European solidarity and all-European integration, and it has never

been tried before.

Multi-Speed Integration

Naturally, in some areas governments tend to reach agreements more easily.

‘The least disputed goal of European Construction is the large market

without borders; even those Member States with reservations over other

objectives do not dispute this one’.[iv] This explains why the first pillar

of the EU – economic integration – has virtually reached supranational

level. Community member states are willing to share their sovereignty in

this field because it is clearly in their interest to do so. The European

Single Market has become the world’s largest domestic market. It has

contributed significantly to the economic growth, though its full potential

has not yet been realised. But ‘...the political will is evident. This

needs to be translated into targeted action.’[v]

By contrast, quite little has been achieved since Maastricht in the two

other pillars of the EU – Common and Foreign Security Policy (CFSP) and

Justice and Home Affairs (JHA) which still remain intergovernmental. This

has become a reality in the integration process: the integration speeds in

the first pillar as compared to the other two pillars vary dramatically.

‘Economic integration and security co-operation have always been a couple

dancing apart from each other on the same dance floor. Despite its

recurrent crises and setbacks, the process of economic integration has

tended to follow the neo-functionalist logic of the expansiveness and

sectoral integration... European security co-operation has always lagged

behind in this respect.’[vi]

By common agreement, CFSP was one of the major disappointments of

Maastricht. After all, Maastricht proposed not only a common foreign and

security policy, but declared the eventual aim to be a common defence. This

has inevitably lead to the relationship between the EU and the defence

alliance, the Western European Union (WEU), being put at stake. This has

become even more challenging since the founding treaty of the WEU expires

in 1998. However, the EU does not seem to be willing to take control in

this area, as it is felt that the EU is being backed up by its major

defence partner – the United States. The US has always been able to act

(and this is what happened when the war in former Yugoslavia broke out) as

a ‘saviour of Europe’ in defence and peace-keeping matters.

Similarly, JHA pillar which includes issues of combating international

crime and fraud, and issues related to a common approach to immigration

policy is a hard nut to crack for the EU because of the national

sensitivity to these. However, there has been some progress in this respect

in Maastricht and further in Amsterdam – at least the workable mechanism

was set out. Besides, it is a very fertile area of co-operation between the

EU and the US.

On the whole, the EU since Maastricht has failed to live up to the peoples’

expectations. The existing structures are further challenged by the

prospects of further integration eastwards: a number of countries in

Central and Eastern Europe, plus some of the successor states of the Soviet

Union are striving to modernise economically and politically, and the EU is

an important magnet for them, whether as a market, a political system

seeking to uphold democratic norms and values, or a putative defence

system. The queue for membership has lengthened. But the Union is not as

attractive from the inside as it may look from the outside. It seemed that

the ‘Monnet-method’, i.e. a closer interaction of national elites as a

means for European integration has reached its limits. Indeed, the EU has

experienced serious internal problems in the aftermath of Maastricht. One

of the most obvious was the ratification crisis. In the narrow sense it

meant a ‘petit oui’ vote in French referendum for the ratification of the

Maastricht Treaty and the initial ‘no’ vote in Danish referendum. In a

wider sense it meant a lack of political support of the EU, widening of the

gap between the governments and the governed, and the lack of leadership in

the EU. As the involvement of the EU and its institutions has expanded, but

without any complementary shift in the sense of involvement and

identification of the electorate, the questions rose about its very


Limits of European Integration?

Legitimacy and Democracy

‘The EU as a scapegoat is hardly a new concept; the problem lies in the

fact that the EU has moved into an ever-wider range of policy areas,

including, with Maastricht, areas previously very closely identified with

the prerogative of the nation state’[vii]. The traditional concept of

legitimacy cannot be fully applied to the institutions of the EU simply

because a ‘single European nation’, or European demos in its traditional

sense does not exist as such and is not likely to appear within foreseeable

future. ‘The integration is not about creating a European nation or people,

but about the ever closer Union among the peoples of Europe’[viii]. A

parliament is a traditionally democratic institution not because ‘it

provides a mechanism for representation and majority voting, but because it

represents ... the nation, the demos from which it derives its authority

and legitimacy of its decisions’[ix]. If we follow the logic of this no-

demos clause, the European Parliament cannot be legitimate and democratic

by definition, and, therefore, the increase of powers of the EP at the

expense of the Council (the voice of the Member States) is a step in the

wrong direction. I cannot agree to this. The demos is traditionally seen

though the ethno-cultural prism. Can’t we imagine a ‘polity whose demos is

defined, accepted and understood in civic, non-ethno-cultural terms, and

would have legitimate rule-making democratic authority an that basis’[x]?

Can’t we separate nationality from citizenship? Can’t people unite on the

basis of shared values, a shared understanding of rights and duties, and

shared rational, intellectual culture which transcends ethno-national

differences? This appears to be the concept of introducing EU citizenship.

According to this viewpoint (which is I personally share, too), the

directly elected European Parliament is a democratic and legitimate

institution for EU citizens, and therefore its powers must be increased.

But the problem lies in misunderstanding. During the Danish referendum for

the ratification of Maastricht, some Danes feared that when acquiring EU

citizenship they were losing their national citizenship. Indeed, ‘...there

was a failure to put across the idea that citizenship of the Union is not

intended to replace the national citizenship but actually to complement

it’[xi]. In some cases the perception was the opposite. Thus, the European

Union should be brought closer to its citizens which will allow the

disputes on legitimacy to be resolved in future. To do this, the following

issues must be addressed.

Transparency of the legislative process

Over twenty separate complex systems are now used to adopt legislation in

the EU, and there is a lack of logic in the choice of the various

procedures. ‘Although willing to share sovereignty, governments retain as

much political control as possible.’[xii] Hence the complexity of

institutional structure and number of decision-making procedures which

sometimes ‘render the Union’s modus operandi extremely obscure’[xiii].

Simplification is, therefore, considered necessary and the pressure is

growing to reduce these procedures to three. The tendency is to move from

unanimity to qualified majority voting in the Council of Ministers, and to

extending co-decision powers of the European Parliament which, in turn,

will increase the legitimacy of the latter. Maintaining unanimity

requirement could, indeed, paralyse a larger Union and prevent future

Treaty reform.


Should Member States willing to do so be specifically allowed to integrate

their policies further and faster than their more reluctant EU partners?

Yes, otherwise the Union should be forever bound to advance at the speed of

its slowest members. To some extent, flexibility already exists. Social

policy, a single currency arrangement and the Schengen acquis all involve

fewer than all fifteen Member States. Moreover, unbalanced economic

integration of the EU has been beneficial to its Member States. As long as

there is agreement on the goal, we can have flexibility. If there is no

common goal we get variable geometry which is widely seen as more

dangerous. Flexibility supposes that more slower members will catch up

while variable geometry doesn’t.


Given its enormous significance, the EU is expected to act efficiently.

However, relatively small issues may suddenly become big issues in

practice. This is illustrated, for example, by the tendency to keep the

diversity of the official and working languages of the EU. ‘The EU Council

of Ministers of 12 June 1995 has not only reaffirmed its firm attachment to

Linguistic Diversity, it has also decided to set up a commission to check

that all the Institutions respect this... The Commission has been invited

to make yearly reports on the application of these decisions ...’[xiv] The

current number of working languages of the EU is eleven. Since EU

legislation is directly applicable in the national law, all languages with

the official status in one or more of the Member States should be official

EU languages as well. This means that there are now eleven official EU

languages. With some Eastern Bloc countries joining the number will

increase to sixteen or more which, in my opinion, will be virtually

unworkable. This will only contribute to the lack of efficiency of the EU.

I think it is wise to limit the number of working languages to a minimum of

five, although in view of the fact that Council members have never been

able to agree on a limit the number of working languages within the

institutions, one may expect a continuing debate on this matter.


As we see, the EU is far from being perfect. And it never will, like any

other man-made enterprise. But the Union cannot afford to be politically

disappointing to its Member States, and especially to the countries which

would like to join it. One could always argue that the EU will not benefit

from ‘the fifth enlargement’ neither politically, nor economically, nor

even administratively (since their ability to participate in the management

of the EU is doubtful), and that a wider Union means a weaker Union. It is

true, but, however, only in the short-run. The EU must upgrade its capacity

to respond favourably to the other counties in Europe, otherwise we may

find ourselves once again in a divided Europe. Therefore, my suggestion is

that the limits of integration of the EU are politically unaffordable, in

other words, ‘the locomotive of European Integration’ has passed the point

of no return and there is no way back. There may be conflicting economic

views about the wisdom of European Integration, or a continuing debate over

the preservation by certain states of an ideal of national sovereignty, a

tension between market Europe and social Europe, but yet despite of all

this ‘... there appears to be an overall commitment to the process of

integration in Europe for a variety of reasons, backed up perhaps by the

‘shadow of war’ factor which served as the original stimulus, so that

whatever the tensions and differences which exist, the ‘journey to an

unknown destination’ continues.’[xv]


[i] Nigel Foster. ‘EC Legislation’ (Blackstone, 1997), 2

[ii] Geoffrey Edwards, Alfred Pijpers. ’The Politics of the European Treaty

Reform. The 1996 Intergovernmental Conference and Beyond’ (Pinter, 1997), 8

[iii] Desmond Dinan. ‘Ever Closer Union? An Introduction to the European

Community’ (Macmillan, 1994), 14

[iv] ‘The new “1999 Objective” for the large market without borders

submitted by the European Commission to the Amsterdam Summit’ (Bulletin

Quotidien Europe No 2039/2040, 12 June 1997), 1

[v] ibid., 1

[vi] Geoffrey Edwards, Alfred Pijpers. ‘The Politics of the European

Treaty Reform. The 1996 Intergovernmental Conference and Beyond’ (Pinter,

1997), 344

[vii] ibid, 342

[viii] Geoffrey Edwards, Alfred Pijpers. ‘The Politics of the European

Treaty Reform. The 1996 Intergovernmental Conference and Beyond’ (Pinter,

1997), 257

[ix] ibid.

[x] Ibid, 261

[xi] Reflection Group 1995; 17 (Ibid, 62)

[xii] Desmond Dinan. ‘Ever Closer Union? An Introduction to the European

Community’ (Macmillan, 1994), 3

[xiii] European Commission 1995:18. Quoted in Geoffrey Edwards, Alfred

Pijpers. ’The Politics of the European Treaty Reform. The 1996

Intergovernmental Conference and Beyond’ (Pinter, 1997), 63

[xiv] ‘EU. Frequently Asked Questions’ Edited by Ronald Siebelink & Bart


[xv] Paul Craig, Grainne de Burca. ‘EC Law. Texts, Cases & Materials’

(Clarendon Press - Oxford, 1997), 37

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