The evolution of the European Union (EU) is almost unprecedented in history—an experiment in progress which has evolved and forced member states to change their policies and interests. European integration is when member states incorporate with other states economically, politically and socially. The first step to European integration was in 1950 when the Schuman declaration led to the creation of the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) . In 1951, the club of six joined the Franco-German production to sign the agreement of the ECSC.
European integration was once a subdued dialogue amongst analysts and theorists but, over the years, it has evolved into a full-scale topic concerning the nature and dynamics of integration. This essay will focus on two leading approaches in the debate—neofunctionalism and liberal intergovernmentalism (LI). Both competing approaches contain strong theoretical integration arguments. By unravelling their context, arguments and looking at empirical evidence to support their claim, it will be shown that aspects from each approach provide an account for European integration. Then by scrutinising each approach, it will be argued how neither approach solely provides a compelling account for European integration. However, it is also important to look at middle-range theories in order to understand European integration because such theories provide an explanation of the process. Therefore, historical institutionalism (HI) and historical materialism¬ will similarly be examined.
The neofunctionalist approach to European integration emanates from the works of Ernest B Haas (1950). In his seminal book , Haas explained how the club of six came to initiate a new form of supranational cooperation. The theory, which was later embedded in the Monnet approach, is based on a theory of regional integration . One aspect of neo-functionalism is the concept of ‘spillover’. This highlights how certain economic policy reforms lead to further economic integration and then wider political integration.
Distinctions can be drawn for different types of spillovers. Functional spillover follows when the pressure of one policy extends to another sector, in which cooperation is required for the original policy area to function effectively . Political spillover is found when political actors shift their allegiance to newly formed institutions. Political actors realise that seeking supranational solutions, rather than national solutions, would effectively better serve their interests. Lindberg (1963) noted that a bureaucratic system—which came about because of the establishment of the European Economic Community (EEC) —made it difficult for political actors to function individually. Cultivated spillover occurs when supranational institutions create plans to further increase the speed of European integration. This extends to the European Commission whose purpose is to keep Europe unified. In their writings, Haas and Lindberg emphasised the...