A comparison with the previous literatureStudies of the processof European integration have taken different tolls, either the historical one,the international relations theory one, or the combination of the two.
The mostdistinguished works on European Integration are to be attributed to twoacademics, Walter Lipgens and Alan Milward, who have developed contradictorytheories on the subject when analyzing the post WWII period (1945) to theTreaty of Rome era (1955). At the core of Lipgens’ argument on Europeanintegration, the emergence of federal structures resulted from a subconsciousfaith in the power of supranational organizations to prevent the rise of anyfurther conflict among European states. In addition, supranationalorganizations produced a positive externality on the process of integration,that is a spillover effect as well as a multiplier effect. In other words, EUintegration became a self-sustaining process, from the formation of NATO to theECC and the Single European Act of 1986. The construction of a EU supranationalinstitutions framework, whereby each institution had various mandates andmembers – referred to by Lipgens as “variable geometry” – would aim to theincrease ties among European States and annihilate the potential for a futurewar.
On the other hand, Milward rejected the theoretical picture depicted byLipgens in his 1992 book The EuropeanRescue of the Nation-State. In his work, Milward advances the thesis thatthe higher the necessity to increase state power, the higher the implementationof European integration by member States. Hence, the spillover effect to reducestate power by “delegating” State power to supranational institutions as suggestedby Lipgens was rebuffed in Milward’s argument. The sole objective EuropeanStates had in mind when including international solutions was to overcome theeconomic as well as the security challenges faced in the 1950s, with thecreation of the European Economic Community and the Euratom in 1957I. The contribution of Andrew MoravcsikIn his book TheChoice for Europe, Andrew Moravcsik seeks to revolutionize the study ofEuropean integration by going beyond the approach of Lipgens and Milward, whoare either focused on the historical side of EU integration or the politicalscience one. Instead, Moravcsik seeks to combine the two and broadens thespectrum of analysis by examining and integrating the studies of Milward andLipgens to include five crucial moments in the construction of Europe from theEEC in 1957 with the Rome Treaties to the Maastricht Treaty in 1992, which setthe ground for monetary integration as well as providing an incentive tofurther federalist cooperative schemes.
Moreover, the innovative feature ofMoravcsik approach is centering his core argument on economic aspects, mainlyexport and foreign direct investment (FDI) promotion by using bothmacroeconomic theory, both in terms of economic theory and political economicpolicies – and microeconomic theory, describing member states as the players ofa zero-sum game. In fact, themethodology used by Moravcsik in explaining Member States’ behavior in terms ofeconomic policies utilizes the Game Theory framework. The first step to do thisis by describing the “battlefield”; in other words, the author stratifiesdecision-making on three analytical levels.
These three levels are: nationalpreference formation, bargaining between respective actors, and the interactionwith institutions. The firstchapter of the book goes through a thorough analysis of how economic and/orpolitical factors influence state policies. This exploration comes to theunderstanding that national interest stems from the consequences of specificevents; the case of European integration reflects how governments reacted toeconomic challenges when making decisions. At first glance, economic factorsbecome of primary importance yet they are not the sole element havingtriggering European Integration. In his second chapter, Moravcsik puts underdiscussion the role of supranational institutions in their ability to reachinternational agreements. Instead, he argues that the negotiations role isbetter upheld by traditional diplomats and diplomatic actors within nationalboundaries. In fact, this somewhat realist thinking is at the center of hiswork.
In the last chapters, Moravcsik analyzes the role of institutions. Incontrast with Lipgens theory whereby integration was promoted by a continuousself-sustaining process supported by federalist ideals, the Commission andindividuals like Jacques Delors or Jean Monnet. In fact, Moravcsik argues thatonly by building a credible commitment can start a negotiation process, thusthe “credibility of commitment” of nation-states. As previouslystated, the author continues his analysis by exploring the five key momentsthat have characterized European integration: the building up of the CommonMarket, its consolidation and the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP); the failurein building up the monetary union during the 1970s, referred to by some asEurosclerosis; the negotiating deal of the Single European Act (SEA) signed in1985; and lastly the treaty of Maastricht in 1992. Overall, Moravcsik providesthe reader with a deep and persuasive argument on the SEA and on the MaastrichtTreaty although the other case studies he discusses lay out some weaknesses. The creation ofthe Common Market and Euratom are the first cases to be analyzed, wherebyMoravcsik argues that an important driver of European integration was exportpromotion, one of his strongest arguments throughout his work. Although it canbe rather logical to support this thesis, it does present some drawbacks in hisargument. This sectioncontains four important shortcomings.
Firstly, in understanding the economicsituation by focusing mostly on continental Europe – Great Britain, France andWest Germany – only provides a meek glance on what was the creation of theEuropean Economic Community and the Britain’s failing proposal of a BritishFree trade area. In fact, these events should take into consideration the roleof the United States with regards to the Economic Community and the role of theNetherlands with regards to Britain’s Free Trade Area. The contribution givenby these two states is not present in Moravcsik’s narration on Europeanintegration. In this respect, Moravcsik avoids discussing their roles in ordernot to contradict his thesis.
Other authors, like Geir Lundestad in ‘Empire’ by Integration’II, have supported the thesis wherebyEuropean integration came about for geopolitical reasons and not for economicones, and thus neglects any American support to the European evolutionaryprocess. Moreover, one of the keystones of the Treaty of Rome were given by theDutch Minister of Foreign Affairs Johan Willem Beyen and the byproduct of WillenDrees cabinet in 1955. This narrow-spectrum focus on the continental Europeancountries previously mentioned does not allow for a complete understanding ofwhat is actually the wide foundational basis of European integration history.
On a secondstance, Moravcsik puts forth the importance of economic factors, leaving on theedge the geopolitical ones which on one hand allows for the undermining of thekey role the United States played and on the other it gives a faux image of the British Commonwealth. The Whitehall by1955 was well aware of the downfall of the British predominance on worldaffairs, especially on it colonies. However, although the West was stillwilling to support Macmillan’s ties and inference over the former colonies andin spite of the Cold War, the geopolitical saying of Britain’s dependentterritories hindered the government from forfeiting the interests of theCommonwealth to smooth relations with Europe and accomplish the Free TradeArea. Thirdly, as pointed out earlier, Moravcsik discredits the importance ofgeopolitics in Europe’s post World War II realm.
In fact, he makes littlereference to the attempt of the Western European Union (WEU) in rearming andincorporating West Germany in NATO in the year 1955. Yet, European integationpreceded any other deal: further economic integration would not have beenpossible without solving the geopolitical matters first for the Six. Moreover,American influence and support for the Treaties of Rome was crucial especiallyat the initial stages, as there where elements in the Adenauer government whosupported the Free Trade Area who could have easily been able to curb WestGerman support for the Common Market and the Euratom. Last but not least withregards to the first chapter of Moravcsik’s book, he asserts that France didnot actually gain what it expected to during this period. However, this assertionseems to be counterfactual in light of history, since France was one of themost favored countries among the SixIII.
Moreover, France played a successful role in filibustering the plan toestablish an OEEC-broadband Free Trade Area. The strongerpoints of his first chapter can be seen when he provides an objective argumentover British policy towards the European continent. Moreover, he provides asubstantial and convincing discussion when rebuffing features of traditionalEuropean integration scholarship, in particular when describing the “Great Man”and the “Spillover/federalist” theories. In his secondcase study, Moravcsik brings to full light his core argument: the fact thateconomic factors pushed forth European integration. In fact, the case studyrefers to the consolidation of the Common Market, when France, West Germany andBritain, motivated by the commercial advantages in agricultural and industrialsectors, gave full support to its realization.
However, this argument stands incontradiction with previous scholarship of this period, which claims thatEuropean integration resulted from high politics; the role of supranationalactors – such as the Commission – heavily contributed in shaping the agenda ofEuropean integration by prioritizing those economic arrangements that wererather unpopular in the member states to which they were addressed. Yet,according to Moravcsik there was a pooling of sovereignty by the States, thatis national sovereignty was delegated but at the same time pooled into thehands of one bigger entity, but this was done for the sole aim of achievinggains from commercial trade, and not the geopolitical ones. When looking at theFrench case, it is commonly understood that France was mainly a rural countryand since Napoleonic times, the role of agriculture and farming always played amajor role in politics.
History and politics always repeat themselves,apparently. In fact, France’s main aspiration was instituting the CommonAgricultural Policy (CAP), which was the De Gaulle’s main reason to oppose theBritish inclusion in the EEC during this period, which prescinded from thespecial relationship Britain had with the United States. Although it can bequestionable that De Gaulle pursued his policies to satisfy his Frenchelectorate and not because of his inspirational beliefs of French Grandeur, theauthor effectively counters the argument that supranational political ideals,like Europeanism triggered European integration. The authorcontinues by depicting the politics of European integration in the 70s.
Thisperiod is described by the literature as being static, labelling it as”Euroscleoris” and an impediment to the process of European integration. Moravcsikclaims that this categorization is wrong and it is based on scholarship’s greatattention to high politics. In fact, it was an impediment for federalism;Moravcsik on the other hand says that if European integration was mainly drivenby economic interests, then the idea that it was an evil decade for Europeanintegration blurs away. In this chapter, Moravcsik re-builds the narrative thatled European authorities in 1973 to keep floating exchange rates (the Snake inthe tunnel), and the agreement that followed in 1978 to establish fixedexchange rates in Europe, the so called European Monetary System (EMS).However, Moravcsik does not provide a concrete explanation of the reasons forwhich these agreements fell apart. The lack of success of these agreementsproves that the previous literature was somewhat right when describing thisperiod as uninfluential to European integration. Moravcsik proceeds describingthe Bretton Woods system and how floating currencies were adopted, yet he failsto provide the reader a clear understanding of the reasons for which thesecurrencies were harmful for Europe after the collapse of Bretton Woods, whenthese currencies should have been tied together by economic policymakers.
Inconclusion, this chapter suffers from the endeavor of comparing the Snake andthe EMS to other agreements such as the European Economic Community, the CommonAgricultural Policy, and the Single European Act, significantly altering theconception of Europe. On the otherhand, Moravcsik’s description of the Single European Act is outstanding wherehe develops a solid critique of the conventional literature. Common scholarshipargues that the Single European Act was the child of Rhenish capitalism andEnglish pragmatism, materialized in the minds of EC Commissioner Jacques Delorsand Lord Arthur Cockfield, the European Commissioner for Internal Market Affairs.This view is underpinned by George RossIV,although Moravcsik rejects it.
In fact, as proposed in his introduction,Moravcsik claims that there was a convergence of the three dimensions, namely:national preference, intergovernmental bargaining among national leaders andthe creation of a new international institutional setting which allowed formore credible commitments. The emphasis on the economic aspects which led tothis convergence clearly outweigh any of the political aspects mentioned byconventional scholarship. In fact, this chapter is dedicated to thedemystification of the figure of Jacques Delors and assigning greater politicalinfluence to statesmen like Margaret Thatcher, Helmut Kohl and FrançoisMitterand. This implies that State governments were the main actors and not theEuropean Commission in advancing their preferences with regards to the SingleEuropean Act. Overall, Moravcsik displays a great effort in scrutinizing thisperiod and giving a better analytical contribution contrary to Ross, whomystifies Delors’ influence.
Following thediscussion on the SEA, Moravcsik goes on to describe the Maastricht treaty, themilestone treaty for Economic and Monetary Union, foreign policy coordinationand intra-member states collaboration on justice and domestic policy. As donein the antecedent chapters, Moravcsik contradicts previous academia on theissue, contemplating German reunification, supranational officials and agendasetting powers of the Commission, and federalist ideologies explainingMaastricht. In contrast, Moravcsik insists on the economic goals of strong andweak-currency Member States that triggered Maastricht.
Contrary to popularbelief whereby Maastricht and the sell-out of the Bundesbank by Kohl wasnecessary for German reunification, Moravcsik argues instead that France andGermany were already committed to move towards monetary union way before thefall of the Berlin Wall. Moreover, the intergovernmental negotiating trendre-surfaced after being completely abandoned during the 1970s during the SEAnegotiations. The final results of the negotiation ended up favoring Germanyaccording to Moravcsik.
The author’s thesis on the economic factors influencingMaastricht are convincing in that they are well lay out, yet the implicationsthat the geopolitical factors had on selling monetary union better to the Germansare not mentioned in his argument. AlthoughMoravcsik provides an original contribution as well as a unique analysiscombining game theory and commercial trends to European integration, it givesway too little importance to geopolitical factors. The strength of thisapproach is effective in the last two cases but is weak in the first threecases he discusses, mostly because the commercial primacy is weaker in thefirst cases. Moreover, Moravcsik avoids the concept of “variable geometry” foralmost three chapters, whilst this concept being significant to Europeanintegration.
The fact that political factors are not contemplated at all whendescribing European integration is a clear flaw, especially when failing todescribe multi-track Europe with the creation of the international institutionsthat built it piece by piece at the end of World War II, such as NATO ECSCEFTA, hence a process which dates back way before the 70s. In conclusionone can say that, despite some issues arising from the attempt to describe 35years of European integration with the use of international trade theory andgame theory, Moravcsik does bring about an innovative approach to traditionalstudies on European integration. In fact, the latter largely focus onsupranational technocrats’ ability to conclude agreements and advance ideas,whereas, this was not technically the case as Moravcsik proves in his last twocases. Moreover, Moravcsik’s book can be better understood by a reader who hasa solid background on monetary economics as well as some knowledge of themechanisms of game theory, as this will facilitate the reading and understandthe dynamics the author is laying out when explaining the case studies. Books cited I Walter Lipgens, ed., Sourcesfor the History of European Integration, 1949-1955, Leiden: Stijhoff, 1980;Walter de Gruyter A History of EuoropeanIntegration, vol.
I, Berlin, 1982; Alan Milward, The European Rescue of the Nation State, Berkley: Univeristy ofCalifornia Press, 1992. II Geir Lundestad, “Empire” byIntegration: the United States and European integration, Oxford: OxfordUniversity Press, 1998. III Moravcsik, p. 148; Milward, p.220.
IV George Ross, Jacques Delorsand European Integration, New York: Oxford University Press, 1995.