Neo-Functionalism the European Model the Concept of Essay

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Neo-Functionalism the European Model

The concept of neo-functionalism originated in the 1950s after the Second World War. During that time, the world was witnessing an emerging pattern of regional integration that saw countries especially in Europe and Latin America eliminate trade barriers in a bid to form regional economic blocks. Neo-functionalism, widely considered as a theory, is synonymous with western European integration. It is thought that the proponents of European integration adopted this theory as their main integration strategy. According to Rosamond (2000), neo-functionalism was triggered by the interactive activity among the original six member states (p. 10). On the other hand, Eilstrup-Sangiovanni (2006), asserts that neo-functionalism was as a result of the behaviorist turn in American social science that were centered on institutional forms, behavior and the integration process (p. 89). He however notes that neo-functionalism failed to describe the integration process during the 1965 empty chair crisis because of its implicit focus on European culture.

Nonetheless, it is critical to note that this concept was developed by Earns Haas. Haas first mentioned neo-functionalism in his 1958 article, The Uniting of Europe: Political, Social and Economic Forces 1950-1957 (Cini & Perez-Solorzano Borragan, 2004, p. 81). Serving as the president of the Council on Foreign Relations and director of Policy Planning of the U.S. department of State, his intentions were to examine the regional integration of Europe after the Second World War as well as to explore the regional integration and development in Latin America's economic cooperation. However, it was the political and economic integration in Europe that attracted him more thereby according it much attention. (Cini & Perez-Solorzano Borragan, 2004, p. 83).

Neo-functionalism reorganizes the principles of functionalism with emphasis on regional institutions. Functionalists' perception of integration is based on an avoidable consequence of development that adds function on the member states thereby forcing them to initiate cooperation with other international institutions. On the other hand, neo-functionalists view is that these international institutions are the drivers of integration by inertia regardless of their objectives. Nonetheless, to the functionalists, the consequence of the integration process is the creation of a separate institutional organization performing their functions, while to the neo-functionalist, the consequence is the creation of one "new political community" (Haas, 1958). Neo-functionalism dictates that there is most likely to be a decline in the importance of nationalism and national state in the face of a central supranational state. Haas (1958), outlines four key mechanisms in the intergration process. These mechanisms are the basic features of neo-functionalism, these includes; process, centrality of supranational institutions, transfer of Loyalties and Spillover. These features best explain European intergration.

The Process

According to Haas, regional integration is a process where the key players' particularly political players from member countries are persuaded to focus their loyalties, expectations and activities on a new Centre with influential institutions that demand jurisdiction over the pre-existing member countries (Haas, 1958, p. 16). The process of European regional integration over the years has been characterized by countries surrendering their sovereignty and voluntarily entering into arrangements with their neighbors' in a bid to establish new techniques of conflict resolution. At the end of the Second World War, there emerged a desire by Western European leaders led by Winston Churchill for an economic and a political union. In April 18th 1951, by signing a treaty, the leaders of France, Italy and Germany established the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) in Paris. The success of the ECSCT prompted the proposal of a European Defense Community (EDC). This proposal did not proceed far as it was defeated by the French National Assembly in 1954. This defeat left the interested parties with no option, but to re-focus their attention on the formation of a common market. On 25 March 1957, they signed the Treaty of Rome with the aim of establishing of a common European market known as the European Economic Community (EEC), which eliminated trade barriers such as customs duties. This common market community was merged with European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom). The EEC adopted an enlargement process in 1972, which saw the United Kingdom, Ireland and Denmark accede to it. In the same line, efforts were made to strengthen the Community's institutional roots and subsequently in 1970, the member countries agreed to closer foreign policy coordination in preparation of a European Political Cooperation (EPC).

In 1985, French President Francois Mitterrand and the German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, influenced the European Parliament decision to finalize the internal market by 1992, the parliament was to extend the principle of majority voting within the Council and to work on a legal framework on which it was to integrate European political cooperation. In addition to this, in the same year, there was an agreement in Schengen, Luxembourg, on the process of eliminating checks at the internal borders of the Community's member countries. In 1986, Spain and Portugal acceded to the European Community. In the same year the Rome Treaty was amended as it was supplemented by drafting of the Single European Act. By 1995, Austria, Finland and Sweden acceded to the Community bringing the number of member states to 15. After the fall of the Berlin Wall, there were membership options given to countries from Central and Eastern Europe, through the Europe Agreements.

The European Economic Community (EEC) transformed into the European Union in 1992 with the signing of the Maastricht Treaty. This was a new stage in the process of further integrating the people of Europe. The treaty also included the finalization of economic and monetary union, which led to the introduction of a single European currency in 2002. Before the introduction of the euro, the European Union heads of States reached an agreement on the Treaty of Amsterdam to improve on the institutional efficiency of the union and the establishment of the office of a High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy. In 2000, the European Council ratified the voting by qualified majority in preparation of enlargement in the Treaty of Nice. Ten years later in 2004, ten new members including Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta and Cyprus were welcomed to the Union.

Supranational Institutions

Domestic competition agents may have a different structure, institutional design and decision-making processes, but revolves around the same principle of promoting competitive market structures as well as deterring behavior against competition such as rigging, price-fixing cartels and unethical monopolies, which had been for a long time common features of the European business environment. Such activities were seen as detrimental to innovation, and inhibited the production of high quality goods and ultimately, affordable prices in the market. The effective control of these domestic competition agents was pivotal because of the rampant anti-competition activities across the borders with the potential to incapacitate the national authorities leaving them ill equipped. This prompted increased inter-regime cooperation in controlling such activities. The European integration adopted a common operation strategy through the empowerment of supranational institutions.

One of the key decision-making institutions in the Union is the Council of the European Union, comprising of representatives from the member states. The Council's main responsibility is to pass laws proposed by the Union in consultation with the European Parliament. Another important institution in the Union is the Committee of Permanent Representatives of the EC (COREPER), which plays a critical role given the fact that council at times demand longer working hours more than available to ministers from member states. Therefore, the Committee, which sits in Brussels, coordinates the work of the Council in addition to monitoring and coordinating the working of other committees comprising of civil servants from member states. It is made up of the permanent representatives from the member states. Furthermore, the European Parliament is one of the core institutions in the Union whose powers have been consistently expanded. The parliament takes decisions using a system of unanimous voting as outlined in the Luxemburg Compromise. However, since the Treaty of Maastricht and the Treaty of Amsterdam it has moved to qualified majority voting as the basis for decision making. This had been further solidified by the Treaty of Nice. The functions of the parliament have experienced differentiation due to the fact that individual areas of policy that were under the jurisdiction of the Councils are more than ever taking life of their own. It is therefore true that the centrality of supranational institutions is an enforcement of integration. According to Haas (1958, p. 29) there were two requirements for succesful intergration of Europe; a central government other than those of the member states, the supranational institutions and the development of a European consciousness or identity as seen above.

Transfer of Loyalties

The major factor in the early phases of European integration was the need for national security. With the advancement of European integration, most of the member states underwent value transformation thereby refining their interests in terms of region rather than purely national orientation. "The erstwhile set of separate national group values, were gradually be superseded by a…[continue]

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