For the first time, following the UK ‘Brexit’ vote, the European Union could decrease its number of member states. Having grown from 6 to 28 members, enlargement has been the norm in the history of the EU. This phenomenon of countries coming together has been studied by a number of scholars who have put forward different theories as to why this integration has taken place. This reading list recommends five classics within the European integration literature that might help us understand why the EU has evolved to its current form and, potentially, what is to come in the post-Brexit world.
Memoirs. Jean Monnet. Doubleday and Co. 1978.
This first recommendation is not strictly a theoretical book that develops an academic theory of integration. Rather, it is the living embodiment of a belief in integration. Jean Monnet is considered one of the fathers of the EU, and probably the most fervent promoter of the idea of European integration. His memoirs are a fascinating read as he has been party to some of the most iconic moments in the history of the twentieth century. Monnet was involved in the League of Nations (Chapter Four) and the drafting of the Schuman Declaration and the European Coal and Steel Community Treaty (Chapters Twelve to Fourteen), and subsequently became the first president of a ‘European executive’ (Chapter Fifteen). His enthusiasm to create the ‘United States of Europe’ was unrivalled. One example of this is the ‘Action Committee for the United States of Europe’, which he put together and directed (Chapter Sixteen). A particularly relevant chapter in these memoirs is Chapter Eighteen, where Monnet gives his account of the UK’s failed attempt to join the European Economic Community in the early 1960s, quoting Charles de Gaulle’s words:
Will she, one day…? It is possible that one day Britain will change of her own accord, sufficiently to join the European Community, without restrictions or reservations […] In that case, the Six would open the door to her (458).
The Uniting of Europe: Political, Social and Economic Forces, 1950-1957. Ernst B. Haas. University of Notre Dame Press. 2004 .
In this book, Ernst Haas presents European integration through the study of the European Coal and Steel Community from 1950 to 1957. He puts forward the idea of ‘spill over effects’, which served as the foundation stone of neofunctionalism: a theory that proposes that ‘activities associated with sectors integrated initially would ‘‘spill over’’ into neighboring sectors not yet integrated, but now becoming the focus of demands for more integration’ (xv). Although neofunctionalism may no longer be as predominant a theory as it initially was (xv-xvii), this book remains a key work in the literature of regional integration. This book also offers a view of the UK as leaning towards more integration in the 1950s, despite ‘having been extremely hesitating’ about ‘any federal or quasi-federal grouping’ (314).
The Choice for Europe: Social Purpose and State Power from Messina to Maastricht. Andrew Moravcsik. Cornell University Press. 1998.
Liberal intergovernmentalism is one of the competing theories that challenged the neofunctionalist view of integration. In The Choice for Europe, Andrew Moravcisk argues that:
European integration can best be explained as a series of rational choices made by national leaders. These choices responded to constraints and opportunities stemming from the economic interests of powerful domestic constituents, the relative power of each state in the international system, and the role of international institutions in bolstering the credibility of interstate commitments (18).
Looking at several key developments between the 1950s and 1990s, such as the Treaty of Rome (Chapter Two), the Single European Act (Chapter Five) and the Economic and Monetary Union (Chapter Six), Moravcsik produced a relevant book that proposes that the state is a key explanatory factor for the European integration rationale.
Multi-level Governance and European Integration. Liesbet Hooghe and Gary Marks. Rowman and Littlefield. 2001.
To counteract such ‘state centric’ views, Hooghe and Marks develop the ‘multi-level governance model’ (MLG) in this book. As the authors write: ‘the [MLG] model does not reject the view that national governments […] are not important’, but that ‘decision-making competencies are shared by actors at different levels rather than monopolized by national governments’ (3). Thus, Hooghe and Marks underscore the importance of European institutions in the process of European integration, as well as national and subnational actors (2, 4).
The Constitution of Europe: ‘Do the New Clothes Have an Emperor?’, and Other Essays on European Integration. J.H.H. Weiler. Cambridge University Press. 1999.
The final recommendation is a book that neither aims to advance a particular ‘-ism’ of integration nor is written by a political scientist. Instead, it is a collection of essays by a renowned legal scholar with distinguished contributions to the European integration literature. In The Constitution of Europe, Weiler assembles a number of these. Most notably, he reproduces his article ‘The Transformation of Europe‘, where he divides the process of the evolution of the EU into several stages: a foundational one until the 1970s, a competence expansive one until the mid-1980s and one à propos the Single European Act. This book offers a distinct account from the books recommended above in examining the integration process through a legal lens.
This post represents the views of the author and not those of the Brexit blog, nor the LSE.