EEU Integration Theories:Neo-Functionalism “Any comprehensive theory of integration should potentially be a theory of disintegration. ” (Schmitter, 2002: 4) Introduction Neo-functionalism, as the first integration theory of EU to form a regional cooperation, is a theory of collective security and collective development but there was a compromise, a negative side: interdependence; sometimes `excessively? to a supranational authority and the risk of by-passing of nation state.
The balance of the scale was rather sensitive and it was both supported and rejected by many passionately.
This paper tries to find an answer to the question “What is the significance of the neo-functionalist theory for integration process of the EU and what are the dynamics and causes of the decline in mid 1960s and its renaissance after 1980s? ” and deals with the theory from a very limited perspective. Its predecessors and successors will be kept out of discussion but a closer view to the phases of neo-functionalism will be provided.
The main argument of this paper is that, in its first phase between 1950s until the mid 1960s, neo-functionalism suffered from abstraction of the power of nation state in a period in which supranational governance was not thoroughly internalized; whereas, with the deepening of integration process and theoretical contributions by scholars, enabled neo-functionalism to see the reality of integration through a more realist and mature perspective and to be more comprehensive in terms of realizing the power of myriads of actors in the integration process during its second phase after mid 1980s.
In the first part, definition of neo-functionalism and its importance in the post WW II context will be given. In the second part, the theory will be elaborated with its core concepts and in the third part, criticisms of the theory will be given from both empirical and theoretical grounds. In the fourth and last part, the recent history of neo-functionalism will be evaluated and the revival period will be elabotared in connection with the recent aspects of European integration. 1. Definition of Neo-functionalism and its importance in the post WW II context The Europe after the two world wars had a catastrophic burden.
Although numbers vary, around 35 million in the first and around 55 million casualties depicted the highest number of losses in the history of mankind. As a precursor to United Nations, League of Nations failed to prevent the road to the second world war primarily due to lacking an armed forces of its own; moreover, nation states hardly had the enthusiasm to support any formation that limited their sovereignty. The pain and destruction after the two wars created an incentive to cooperate for further economic and human losses.
Neo-functionalism is conceptualized by Ernst B. Haas in this context to explain boosting of regional cooperation and create interdependence in such a way that any conflict would result in great economic losses, which prevents rational states from further conflicts. “Then came along the political project of creating a united Europe, which had the result of creating a myriad of institutions in which very, very many people participated. … These institutions developed a permanence through which both French and German … learned to do routine business with each other every day.
A problem which they experienced was a common problem. … first comes the traumatic lesson, then comes the institution for learning to deal with each other” (Haas, 2000: 16 in Risse, 2004:1). The case of European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) was the example that Haas took to exemplify this cooperation to integration process. The ECSC was the first organisation based on supranational integration, with the states that composed them pooling a whole range of national powers (European Nagivator, The European Communities).
Until it was merged to the European Commission in 1967, The High Authority governed the ECSC to provide a common market in terms of coal and steel. “The Six (Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands) opted for integration and supranationalism as the means of unification. ” (Henig, 1997:12) For Haas, political integration is “the process whereby political actors in several distinct national settings are persuaded to shift their loyalties, expectations, and political activities toward a new centre, whose institutions possess or demand jurisdiction over the pre-existing national states” (Haas 1958,16).
According to neo-functionalist thinking “the fundamental idea was that international relations shouldn`t be seen as a zero sum game, and that everybody wins when countries become involved in processes of economic and political integration” (Stroby-Jensen in Cini, 2007:84). The main reason for this arguments is one of the key concepts of neo-functionalism, namely spillover, which will be substantiated in the next part. 2. Main concepts of Neo-functionalist theory The Spillover thesis
Neo-functionalist theory assumes that cooperation in a certain area triggers cooperation in several other areas areas (sometimes not previously planned ones) to achieve a through integration in the original area and creates new political goals (Stroby-Jensen in Cini, 2007:84). According Neo-functionalism the logic of spillover is central to explain the expansive logic of European integration and in this part three main types of spill over will be briefly identified to understand this expansive logic with a closer view.
The first type of spill over is the functional or technical spillover, which suggests some sectors are so interdependent to each other that, it is impossible to isolate them and further integration is the key to prevent further problems. In other words, it takes place “when integration in one industry/sector creates its own impetus and necessitates further integration both in the same, and in other industries/sectors” (Howell, 2002:17).
The second type is the political spillover according to which policy areas are purposefully linked together due to ideological reasons, sometimes as “package deals” (Stroby-Jensen in Cini, 2007:85). With such integration, the actors will realise their benefits in the international level instead of national one and form international coalitions (Haas, 1968:34). So the elites will learn to pursue their benefits in the international level and “refocus their activities, expectations and even loyalties to the new center” (Tranholm-Mikkelsen, 1991:4).
The third type of spillover is the cultivated spillover which puts emphasis on central institutions like the Commission especially when nation states aren`t willingful for further integration. So it is assumed “that the European Commission will be pro-active in the management of European integration” (Howell, 2002:17). But the important point here is that the central institutions such as the Commission act “not only as mediators, but also more directly as agents of political integration or as `policy enterpreneurs`” (Stroby-Jensen in Cini, 2007:85).
Elite Socialization and Supranational Interest Group Thesis The second and the third thesis of neo-functionalism are elite socialization thesis and supranational interest group thesis. “The elite socialization thesis describes that over time civil servants and politicians involved on a regular basis in the supranational policy process will tend to develop European loyalties and preferences” (Mailand, 2005:6). This loyalty would result in prioritizing the European interests rather than the national ones in the framework of pan-European norms and ideas.
This formation of European-minded agents result in a common European identity. The latter one, the supranational interest group thesis, argues the presence of interest groups putting pressure on governments to accelerate the integration process based on their economic and political interests. “Organized interest groups are also expected to become more European, as corporations and business groups formulate their own interests with an eye to the supranational institutions” (Stroby-Jensen in Cini, 2007:87).
They “may ally themselves with supranational institutions like the European Commission in pursuing their agendas” (Ozcan, 2008:8). 3. Main criticisms for the Neo-functionalist theory The power of a theory is closely related with its accuracy of prediction. That is why neo-functionalism was considered to be quite convincing around 1950s and 1960s. From the middle of 1960 the theory suffered a great deal due to the incompatibilities with reality until its renaissance around mid 1980s due to the developments in integration process.
But in this part the main criticisms towards neo-functionalism before its revival will be elaborated with its imperfections under empirical and theoretical grounds. From an empirical grounds perspective, due to its attempt for being a grand theory, neo-functionalist school put forward some great assumptions, the most attention drawing of which is the emphasis on incremental integration rather than with fluctuations during the integration process of Europe.
On the one hand, compared to its predecessor functionalism (as mentioned at the beginning of the paper, due to the limitations, the contextual approach to neo-functionalism is abstracted from this paper), neo-functionalism takes into consideration the non-automated integration; but on the other hand, ironically, based on spill over concept, neo-functionalism did not take into consideration the possibility of spill-back until the middle of 1960s, which can shortly be defined as the process of disintegration and “withdraw from joint obligations” (Schmitter, 2002:20), and downgrading their commitment to mutual cooperation.
The most explicit example would be the Empty Chair Crisis “From 30 June 1965 to 29 January 1966, in disagreement with the Commission of the European Communities on the financing of the common agricultural policy (CAP), France’s representatives refuse to attend any intergovernmental meetings of the Community bodies in Brussels” (European Navigator, The Empty Chair Crisis). The French president Charles de Gaulle who had a military background created a huge crisis which ended up with the Luxembourg Compromise in 1966.
The main reason for this was the gradual transition from unanimous voting to qualified-majority voting as provided for in the Treaty of Rome with effect from 1966 (Europa Glossary, Luxembourg Compromise). The crisis due to the intergovernmental view of French government formed the end of the first phase of neo-functionalism, leaving its place to a nation-state dominated perception of integration. From a theoretical grounds perspective, neo-functionalist school was criticized for the inability to predict the nature of integration.
Concerning this, even Haas himself acknowledged that “What once appeared to be a distinctive `supranational? style now looks more like a huge regional bureaucratic appendage to an intergovernmental conference in permanent session. ” (Haas, 1975:6). As it is mentioned in the empirical grounds part, the concept of spill over was seen not to reflect the realities of integration process all the time. The second important critique from a theoretical point of view is towards the elite socialization thesis, which mainly assumes the development of supranational loyalties and identities.
This criticism argues that in fact it is not possible to separate the servants from their national roots and even if they are paid and appointed by a supranational authority, they may still have a “larger ear” (Dihm, 2010: Field Trip to Brussels Meeting) for their national backgrounds either due to due their previous networks or nationalist sentiments. The third criticism focuses on the nature of neo-functionalism, which gives the main importance on the supranational character of international relations.
Again taking into consideration the empirical criticism, the intergovernmental aspect was underestimated in case of national interests by the neo-functionalist school and the main criticism was towards an analysis which is more centered on intergovernmental aspects. 4. The revival of Neo-functionalism in the late 1980s and early 1990s Although Neo-functionalism lost its popularity after the middle of 1960s (after a period of popularity in 1950s and first half of 1960s), it started to gain its popularity due to the revitalization of EU integration process.
This renewed interest is closely associated with the Single European Act (1986) which brought forward creation of an internal market in EU until 1992. “To facilitate the establishment of the internal market, the act provides for increasing the number of cases in which the Council can take decisions by qualified majority voting instead of unanimity” (Europa. eu, Single European Act). This accelerated the integration process in many ways besides removing trade barriers only, making the concept of spillover frequently referred to once again after a long slumber.
Nevertheless according to some, this renewal would not be sufficient to understand the linear progression of social events. “As social scientists, we wish for theories about the social world to build on each other in some linear fashion but more often than not we observe, instead, a cyclical pattern by which different schools of thought replace each other in commanding out attention over time. Leading figures in the various theoretical traditions follow this same pattern” (Orru, 1988:115).
But this was merely a cyclical pattern in fact when a closer analysis is made concerning the main theoretical aspects of the renaissance of neo-functionalism. After the theory strengthened by the developments in EU, the most significant contribution came from Alec Stone Sweet and Wayne Sandholtz`s “European Integration and Supranational Governance”. Their main argument is given at the beginning of their article as “We argue that European integration is provoked and sustained by the development of causal connections between three factors: transnational exchange, supra-national organization, and European Community (EC) rule-making. (Stone-Sweet, Sandholtz, 1997:297) and their main emphasis is on “cross-border transactions and communications that generate a social demand for EC rules and regulation” and institutionalization due to EC rules and as endresult “this process provokes further integration” (Stone-Sweet, Sandholtz, 1997:297). As seen above, their theory is based on a sense of causality and their position is in between the intergovernmental and supranational politics which is seen as a continuum and “the continuum measures the increasing influences of three factors on policy-making processes and outcomes within any given policy sector.
These factors are: (1) supranational organizations; (2) supranational rules; and (3) transnational society” (Stone-Sweet, Sandholtz, 1997:303). Bargaining takes place between a number of actors to decide on which end of the continuum is more predominant during the decision making process; nevertheless, since they also take into consideration the intergovernmental aspect, they argue “the grand bargains are, by definition, intergovernmental” (Stone-Sweet, Sandholtz, 1997:307).
They not only take into consideration the intergovernmental policies, but also accept them existing in all stages and parts of the decision making system by saying “ In fact, intergovernmental decision-making is ubiquitous in the EC, present even at the far right-hand pole of our continuum [which is Supranational Politics]” (Stone-Sweet, Sandholtz, 1997:306).
What they take as their starting point to their theory constitutes the core point of their argument, which is the society as the determinant actor especially “non-state actors who engage in trans-actions and communications across national borders, within Europe” (Stone-Sweet, Sandholtz, 1997:306). It will be the people to demand a certain standard of European rules standards and “as transnational exchange rises, so does the societal demand for supranational rules and organizational capacity to regulate” (Stone-Sweet, Sandholtz, 1997:306).
Stone-Sweet and Sandholtz also make a check of their argument by looking at “Eurosclerosis”. “The period from the mid-1960s to the mid-1980s in the context of European integration is often referred to as an era of stagnation or eurosclerosis. ” (Awesti, 2006:2). Stone-Sweet and Sandholtz argue that during this period starting from the Empty Chair Crisis to The Single European Act in other words “ In the worst days of ‘Eurosclerosis’ in the 1970s, levels of intra-EC trade and other forms of exchange soared” and they point out a direct correlation between the integration process and the exchanges that take place.
As seen, transaction based integration theory is depicted as a process which is mainly driven by the volume of transactions taking place for a thorough integration process by triggering a vast extent of regulations in myriads of areas. Conclusion Mentioned as the first words of this paper “Any comprehensive theory of integration should potentially be a theory of disintegration” (Schmitter, 2002:4), Schmitter highlights that the strength and weakness of neo-functionalism is rather similar and what creates integration may end up with disintegrative consequences.
Being accepted as the first of the integration theories, neo-functionalism has had a very debated place due to its defying characteristics against the sovereignty of nation states. When all the information given above is summed up, it would be possible to say that the time span in which a theory exists in, is crucial for its existence. In other words, the perceptions and conditions of its age is of great importance to decide on the consistency of a theory.
Neo-functionalism suffered due to the theoretical assumptions and the realities of integration process in its first phase; nevertheless, the notion of supranationality seemed to be better absorbed and digested by the nation-states in its second phase. Another significant determinant factor about the life of a theory that one can deduct by looking at the example of neo-functionalism is the level of abstractions. How much a theory shall abstract and accept is a major question and although in the first phase Haas didn`t totally deny the authority of nation-states, due to the sensitivities of the age, the theory weakened considerably.
Even if they don? t define themselves as neo-functionalists, Stone-Sweet and Sandholtz`s approach to integration process as a continuum between the two poles of sovereignty brought a fresh start for the decision-making and integration process of EU. All in all, today neo-functionalism with its renewed form, is one of the most significant theories to observe and understand the dynamics of integration process of EU together with all the bargaining process that takes place between the actors involved.