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How Useful Are Theories of Integration to Understanding the Development of the European Union?

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Submitted By p24real2000
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How useful are theories of integration to understanding the development of the European Union?


“There is no historical precedent for the creation of a multinational, multicultural, and multilingual federation of states with mature social, economic, political and legal systems. In this regard the EU is a colossal and original enterprise.” From the beginnings of its development, there have many causes for the development of what is now the European Union (EU). This essay examines theories of integration and evaluates their validity in explaining the development of the EU. Then, by scrutinising these theories, this essay will seek to establish which, if any provide a comprehensive explanation for the development of the EU.

Theories of integration offer explanations of how and why supranational governance has developed. Whilst there are undoubtedly many different causes and factors which have contributed to the development of the EU, this essay primarily focuses on neo-functionalism and intergovernmentalism as well as some new theories of integration which seek to explain the development. Although federalist and functionalist theories provide an interesting normative account of integration, their use in explaining the development of the EU is limited as they have been superseded by newer, more comprehensive theory. The ‘development of the EU’ is in itself a contentious term; for what constitutes development? For the purposes of this essay, development will be understood to mean the rise of supranational...

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