chapter  10
21 Pages

Globalisation and European integration: the internal and external dimensions of neo-liberal restructuring


Theories of European integration, whether they are from the neo-functionalist or the intergovernmentalist strand, concentrate on the institutional development of the European Union (EU), i.e. the form of European integration. Neo-functionalists focus on transnational interest groups and the supranational EU institutions, i.e. the Commission, the European Parliament and the European Court of Justice, and on the day-to-day policy-making considered to prepare the more significant steps of further integration, such as the Single European Act (SEA) of 1987 (Tranholm-Mikkelsen, 1991). On the other hand, intergovernmentalists emphasise the priority of the intergovernmental institutions, i.e. the Council of Ministers and the European Council, and concentrate on the inter-state treaty negotiations considered to be the crucial arena where the future of the EU is decided (Moravcsik, 1998). While neo-functionalists emphasise the supranational character of the EU with some speaking about the emergence of a new European super-state, intergovernmentalists highlight the intergovernmental nature of the EU with states being in the driving seat. Normatively, neo-functionalists support further integration, whereas intergovernmentalists stress the importance of national power and sovereignty. The social purpose underlying European integration, arguably the more important dimension, is however overlooked (van Apeldoorn, 2001: 71, 2002: 11-13 and 34-44). Similar to the contribution to this book by Bieling, in this chapter I focus on the social purpose of European integration and, more precisely, the contents of the revival of European integration since the mid-1980s. I will, first, concentrate on the social purpose of the internal dimension of European integration including a discussion of the Internal Market programme and the related SEA, the Treaty of Maastricht and Economic and Monetary Union (EMU), as well as the development of a Social Dimension at the European level. Then I will analyse the external dimension of European integration covering recent EU enlargement rounds as well as the EU’s free trade policy. This is then followed by an investigation of the underlying social relations of production and the various class fractions behind this moment of restructuring. The conclusion will identify potential forces of resistance against the intensification of neo-liberal restructuring in Europe and beyond.