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Politics of the European Union: Theories on the Development and Nature of the European Union - Essay Example

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The following essay will discuss theories of nature and development of European integration. They include functionalism, Neo-functionalism, federalism, Intergovernmentalism, policy networks, multilevel governance, and institutionalism theory…
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Politics of the European Union: Theories on the Development and Nature of the European Union
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Download file to see previous pages From the research it can be comprehended that the Regional integration process in Europe has unfolded at an unsteady and unpredictable pace and in unexpected directions, regardless of the once confident predictions of the classical paradigms to the contrary. The flux in community affairs makes real difficulties for those whose task is to uncover and explain the process. Developments so far have certainly carried the European process across the minimalist threshold that demarcates integration from mere intergovernmental cooperation, without realizing is the ambitious goal to an immensely complex process of political change. Radical changes have characterized European politics in the recent years. Various scholars have been poised with the question of whether there is a single theory that tries to explain the nature and development of European Union. Indeed, there is no single-defined theory that explains this phenomenon. The processes of democratization and state consolidation have, immensely, affected the politics in the society—the perception and undertaking of regional politics have changed due to international developments. The continuity of European integration process has made the European Union an increasingly influential political actor. Federalism’s contribution to the development of European integration turned out, then, to be much less significant than might have been anticipated in the earlier years. (Jones, 2001). The constraints of national politics, the residue appeal of the national interests underpinned by a revived continuing sense of national identity were the vital factors towards European integration. In addition, the unpredictable impact of events and the movement’s failure in these fluid circumstances to convert public opinion to its cause, led to deep internal tensions that eventually engulfed the movement in debilitating factional squabbles (Pallemaerts, 2006). The trend in integration theory is towards less dogmatic explanations of integration events and processes. Recent approaches tend to disclaim the view that the Union’s path of development was inevitable, or that its future can be confidently predicted. They tend to lay greater stress than earlier theories upon the choices available to governments and upon the influence of international events and circumstances. Newer theories are also more eclectic than the old, drawing upon various schools of thought. As such, Grand theories, which seek to provide a comprehensive explanation of the EUs nature and development, have tended to be replaced by ‘middle range’ theories (Archer, 2000). There are an increasing number of these theories, meaning that the study of the EU is becoming increasingly fragmented. Functionalism theory favors the strategy of gradually undermining state sovereignty, by encouraging technical cooperation in policy areas across the state boundaries. The founding father of the functionalist school was David Mitrany (1966), a Romanian born-scholar who taught for many years at the London School of Economics. He regarded nationalism as the biggest threat to the world peace and favored a shift in human loyalties from the national to the international level. This was achieved through mutually beneficial international cooperation in sectors such as transport, agriculture, science and health. Mitrany’s ideas rest on the assumption that governments are less able to meet the welfare needs of their citizens than ‘non-political’ international authorities. People would, therefore, become more committed to ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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