Past and Present Sources of European Union. A Comparative Historical-Institutionalist Analysis
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This study sets out to explain why continental and southern Europe has been significantly more favourable to post-1945 European integration than the north. I argue that this is an important problem for two reasons. First, the fact that there are more and less Europeanist member states has been and remains the most basic political constraint on European integration. Second, I believe that by exploring this issue, I am able to present an innovative, comparative-historical analysis that not only advances our theoretical understanding of European integration, but also sheds new light on the evolution of nationalism and the nation-state. In line with broad trends in political and social theory over the last twenty to thirty years, notably social constructivism, in the introductory discussion in Part 1 I assume that a search for the sources of Europeanism - territorial and other - requires an appropriate consideration of the role of ideas. I argue that the attitudes of individuals and collectivities to political issues like European integration reflect their ideological preferences as well as their material interests, both of which are in turn products of, and may be modified by, learning. Key concepts in the study are thus 'interest,' 'ideology,' and 'learning.' I assume that territorial-historical background fundamentally structures how agents are influenced by these variables. Inspired by the Norwegian comparativist Stein Rokkan, I interpret European integration as a case of polity-building comparable to other instances of state- and nation-building in history. This approach suggests that integration is a fundamentally political process with the issue of sovereignty at its core. Hence, regionally differentiated patterns of attitudes to European union may reflect territorially distinct, historically evolved ideas of sovereignty. On this assumption, I construct a 2x2 table defining four basic ideas of soverereignty - polity-ideas, or normative ideas about a legitimate political order - that structures the study's comparative-historical analysis: universalist-descending; particularist-descending; particularist-ascending; and universalist-ascending. I argue that each polity-idea is associated with a particular discourse, ideology, and even an ontological and epistemological paradigm. The main controversy in the post-1945 European debate has been between what I term the national-liberal and the Christian-democratic paradigms of integration. The former is basically particularist and intergovernmentalist and is based in northern, Lutheran or Anglican Europe. The second is inspired by Christian universalism, favours a federal or unitary Europe, and has its mainstay in continental and southern, Catholic Europe. In Part 2, I examine existing integration and international relations as well as general political science theory in order to identify theoretically possible sources of Europeanist attitudes. This discussion concludes with a working hypothesis based on Rokkan's notion of the European city-belt. Could, as Rokkan himself explicitly suggested, the city-belt, stretching roughly from Central Italy to the North Sea and representing the historical core territory of the Catholic church and the Holy Roman Empire, be the home base or 'primary territory' of a European 'nation'? Could it in this sense play a similar historical polity-building role as that assigned by Karl W. Deutsch to the Île de France as the hub of the French nation-state, to Leon-Castille in Spain, Savoy-Piemonte in Italy, Prussia in Germany, England in Britain etc.? If so, it is indeed worthwhile comparing contemporary European union-building to historical nationbuilding, Europeanism (pro-union ideology) to nationalism and Europeanness (European identity) to national identity. While conceding that his perspective is indeed valuable and relevant, the historical discussion in Part 3 criticises Rokkan's notion of the city-belt for nationalliberal reductionism. The Rokkanian-Deutschian thesis neglects the ancient and medieval tradition for unity and universalism espoused by the Roman Church and the Holy Roman/Habsburg Empire and underrates the continued influence of these institutions even after the Peace of Westphalia. Moreover, the thesis is too structuralist, implying that the European Union emerged more or less by default. Like intergovernmentalist and neofunctionalist integration theory, it underestimates the role of ideologically aware and reasoning human agency. Hence it is argued that Rome, represented by the Roman Church as well as by successive Roman empires, is a more important territorial and historical source of Europeanism than city-studded Central Europe. Part 3 narrates how the ascendancy of particularist (or nationalist), discourse resulted from the fragmentation of unitary medieval Christendom into a modern Europe dominated by autonomous states. State-builders propagated the notion of territorial sovereignty, which eventually turned into the hegemonial, particularistascending idea of national sovereignty. Here France and the Protestant states of north-western Europe were the pioneers, their kings' control of national churches being an important factor. Anglican and Lutheran Protestantism was particularly conducive to particularism, which notably in the German context turned exclusivist and eventually racist. The particularist paradigm survived two World Wars in its more benign North Atlantic, liberal form. I submit that this paradigm has been a major source of British and Scandinavian ideological reluctance to post-war European integration. But the Holy See as well as the Holy Roman/Habsburg Empires continued to represent a strong counterweight to particularist discourse even after the Reformation and the religious wars. The Papacy criticised nationalism as a political religion, and came to terms with the modern, secular nation-state and national mass politics only with difficulty. Still, in the late nineteenth century Catholic parties were allowed to emerge and enabled Catholics to participate in secular, national politics. But they continued to look beyond the nation-state. The final Part 4 of the study narrates how transnationally networked, Christian democratic parties of Western Continental Europe jointly formulated a Europeanist-ascending programme for European union after World War II. The European Union was launched on its supranational path when these parties, led mainly by statesmen from Carolingian-Lotharingian Europe, dominated the governments of the six founding states from about 1945 to 1965. Their discourse in this regard was heavily informed by ideology rooted in the universalist European legacy, whose mainstay remains Catholic, continental and southern Europe.
PublisherThe University of Bergen
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