Has the EU reached the limits of integration (реферат)

Political Aspects of European Integration

COURSE ESSAY

Has the EU reached the limits of integration?

By: Yaroslav Sinitsov, EUBL

Instructor: Desmond Dinan,

Visiting Professor, University of Amsterdam

Introduction

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.’ 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.’

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’. 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’. 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.’

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.’

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 legitimacy.

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’. 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’. 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’. 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’? 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’. 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.’ Hence the complexity of
institutional structure and number of decision-making procedures which
sometimes ‘render the Union’s modus operandi extremely obscure’.
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.

Flexibility

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.

Efficiency

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 …’ 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.

Conclusion

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.’

PAGE 9

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

Geoffrey Edwards, Alfred Pijpers. ’The Politics of the European Treaty
Reform. The 1996 Intergovernmental Conference and Beyond’ (Pinter,
1997), 8

Desmond Dinan. ‘Ever Closer Union? An Introduction to the European
Community’ (Macmillan, 1994), 14

‘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

ibid., 1

Geoffrey Edwards, Alfred Pijpers. ‘The Politics of the European Treaty
Reform. The 1996 Intergovernmental Conference and Beyond’ (Pinter,
1997), 344

ibid, 342

Geoffrey Edwards, Alfred Pijpers. ‘The Politics of the European Treaty
Reform. The 1996 Intergovernmental Conference and Beyond’ (Pinter,
1997), 257

ibid.

Ibid, 261

Reflection Group 1995; 17 (Ibid, 62)

Desmond Dinan. ‘Ever Closer Union? An Introduction to the European
Community’ (Macmillan, 1994), 3

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

‘EU. Frequently Asked Questions’ Edited by Ronald Siebelink & Bart
Schelfhout

Paul Craig, Grainne de Burca. ‘EC Law. Texts, Cases & Materials’
(Clarendon Press — Oxford, 1997), 37

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