Политические аспекты европейской интеграции (на англ.)

Политические аспекты европейской интеграции (на англ.)

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.’[i] 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.’[ii]

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’[iii]. 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’.[iv] 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.’[v]

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.’[vi]

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.

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’[vii]. 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’[viii].
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’[ix].
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’[x]? 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’[xi]. 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.’[xii] Hence the complexity of institutional
structure and number of decision-making procedures which sometimes ‘render the
Union’s modus operandi extremely obscure’[xiii]. 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 …’[xiv]
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.’[xv]


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

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

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

[iv] ‘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

[v] ibid., 1

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

[vii] ibid, 342

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

[x]  Ibid, 261

[xi]  Reflection Group 1995; 17 (Ibid, 62)

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

[xiii] 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

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

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

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