In 2004, the European Union experienced its fifth and largest enlargement in its history, allowing eight Eastern European countries that had previously been under Soviet influence into the organization. With the accession of
Romania and Bulgaria
three years later, the European Union experienced an incredible growth in the
number of member states involved in the Union,
bringing increased attention to the enlargement process from academics and
theorists. Neofunctionalists (NF) argued that the scope of enlargement was due
to “transcendental spillover of European integration” (Mariscal, 2004, p. 4),
and that the process was in tune with the theory’s precepts. Liberal intergovernmentalists
(LI) on the other hand, argued that the enlargement process reflected the
“national interests and state power” of existing member states and the major
actors responsible for domestic political decisions in leading states
(Moravcsik, 2003, p. 43). To examine these competing theories of European
integration, their principles will be applied to the 2004-2007 enlargement of
the European Union, the economic benefits and as well as the potential future
into the union. While each approach claims to demonstrate an overarching
theoretical explanation for EU enlargement that cross over into a number of
different policy realms, I argue that while the economic benefits to major
actors involved in each member state’s (MS) domestic politics verify LI
precepts, the European Commission’s vital role in pushing the process forward
and creating compromise between MS has been a necessary part of the enlargement
process underemphasized by LI theorists. Turkey
The enlargement of the European Union to include seven new states can be seen to justify NF arguments, specifically in the role the EU played in the political process. At the heart of Neofunctionalist claims is that the “essence of integration lies in the fact that this is not the result of conscious choice” (Moravcsik, 2005 p.351) of the member states involved in the process. While enlargement was popular among Western Europeans on social grounds, it was unpopular economically (Eurobarometer, 2006, p. 40). Many Europeans in the West feared that increased enlargement and integration would increase the number of low skilled labourers in their nations, driving down wages (Ibid, p. 40). Because of this, the enlargement process was not approached with the same level of interest by member states throughout the process, forcing the EU Commission to play a leading role in directing the procedure, even though aspects of enlargement were unpopular with member states in 2004 (and continues to be so in the case of Turkey) (Macmillian, 2009, p.804).
Neofunctionalism’s logic argues that increased power of the EU in the enlargement process comes from the Commission, in a process that developed incrementally over time known as Cultivated Spillover (Macmillian, 2009, p. 801). The Commission was able to play a strong mediating role between member states and accession states, building compromises and pushing the enlargement process forward when MS support had waned. Since member states would view the bargaining process as a zero sum game according to NF’s logic, the Commission played a significant and necessary role in “upgrading common interests” among the actors involved (Niemann, 1998, p. 431). Acting as a power broker, it was able to set the agenda of the 2004 enlargement process, and because it was a central force pushing for enlargement, as well as “its willingness to produce proposals, [it] become a significant player in the enlargement process” (Macmillian, 2009, p. 801). A separate aspect of NF is what is known as Political Spillover, which argues that collaboration and social-integration of elite technocrats at the supranational level have produced a “forward momentum of integration” that is fundamentally inevitable (Moravcsik, 2005, p.350). The collaborative process fostered by the EU brought about increased cooperation between states and actors within them, creating allegiances to the supranational actor that could mediate and press forward in ways national leaders were unable to do (O’Brennen, 1998, p.171). Due to the increased powers provided to the Commission through the integration process following the Paris Summit, its successful engagement with the European Community – Central and East European Countries (EC–CEEC) trade agreement (Niemann, 1998, p. 434), and the PHARE (Poland–Hungary: Aid for Restructuring of the Economies) programme to prepare CEE states for membership (O’Brennen, 1998, p. 172), the Commission was given more leverage by member states to act with authority. The PHARE program is an excellent example of spillover in the enlargement process. Originally intended as an aid program to
providing financial and technical support in helping both states makes the
transition to a market economy (Niemann, 1998, p. 433), it was quickly extended
in 1998 to included 13 countries. The expansion of the program was a result of
the Copenhagen European Council, where Member States had agreed to allow
Central and Eastern European states into the EU if they desired (Ibid, p. 435).
The Commission recognized the functional pressure this goal would have on the
EU and its member states (Ibid, p.436), and significantly increased the budget
of PHARE as well as providing increased powers to the Commission (Ibid, p.
Unanticipated threats from outside member states’ governmental control increased the necessity of the Commission and the European Union to participate in the enlargement process. As Philippe Schmitter argued, these unforeseen effects on existing member states by third party forces outside of their collective system, will force them to “adopt common policies vis-à-vis nonparticipant third parties. Members will be forced to hammer out a collective external position (and in the process are likely to rely increasingly on the new central institutions to do it)” (Schmitter, 1969, p. 165). Migration to member states from outside the Union represents an example of this, as the scope of the problem is larger than any single state can adequately address, which lead to an increase in cooperation through the EU’s Justice and Home Affairs (JHA) department (Boswell, 2003, p.619). While states will still develop policies that reflect their interests in the enlargement process, and look to maximize those benefits, they will be obliged to cede responsibility to the Commission when dealing with issues beyond their control (Niemann, 1998, p. 432).
Liberal intergovernmentalism contends that member states are always aware of their decisions, how these decisions will affect them in the future, and that “bargaining and delegation by explicit governmental agreement better explains more important decisions in EU history” (Moravcsik, 1995, p.625). However, as O’Brennan argues, LI is “ill-equipped to account for the sheer density of issues and level of institutionalized cooperation (O’Brennan, 1998, p.169),” and is insufficient at explaining the political aspect and role the Commission has played in the enlargement of the European Union. The ability for the Commission to push forward the enlargement process even when it is unpopular with member states tells us that while states may work to guarantee economic advantage, state preferences change, and enlargement is “an ongoing process characterized by member state uncertainty” (O’Brennan, 1998, p. 169). That said, LI offers a compelling account as to why MS formulate their positions. Since states remain the defining players in LI, preferences of both the existing and applicant states, as well as the major actors at play in each state’s domestic politics, explain why states acted as they did in the accession process. Specifically, economic and commercial interests drove the enlargement process forward with the Central and Eastern European countries, and continue to do so in the case of
(Ibid, p.168). Member state governments
are forced to act in the interests of strong constituents in their domestic
politics, and in the case of enlargement, capitalist business interests and
well-educated elites have the most to gain and are generally in favour of the
process (Doyle and Fidrmuc, 2006, p. 522). These actors know what is in their
best interests and “employ considerable resources to make sure their views get
across to policymakers” (Loretzen, 2000, p.3). European Round Table of
Industrialists (ERT), a club of some 40 multinationals concluded that the
enlargement process was beneficial for business interests in both existing
states and accession applicants (Ibid, p.3). Because the EU is predominantly an
economic centered organization meant to deal with globalization, it “remains of
preeminent importance due to its material benefits (Moravcsik to Chatzistavrou, 2008)” and beneficial
for market interests active in the enlargement process. Turkey
The economic advantages to EU membership are noteworthy. Joining the EU will likely generate long-term total gains to new MS “ranging from 23 to 50 billion Euros” (Moravcsik and Vachudova, p.47). All regions that are 75% per capita GDP below the Community average qualify automatically to receive structural funds, even if other parts of their state are more prosperous (Delhey, 2001, p.211). The 2004 enlargement created significant material benefits for the existing member states by increasing the internal market by over 100 million consumers in swiftly emerging economies (Moravcsik and Vachudova, 2003, p. 50). It is not surprising to liberal intergovernmentalists that the applicant states were willing to sacrifice more to obtain membership. Moravcsik describes this phenomenon as “asymmetrical interdependence,” as states will make concessions on some fronts without the necessity for strong coercive diplomacy because they recognize the overall benefits of these concessions” (Ibid, p. 45). The access to the collective European market, the ability for labour from the east to travel to the west, as well as the structural funds provided by the EU would provide significant economic advantages to the new states, and thus they are willing to sacrifice more in negotiations (Ibid, p. 48). Current member states also added a number of self-interested conditions to membership for the applicant states, such as lower subsidies than previous applicants, and “outlays from the EU budget to new members have been capped at 5 percent of their GDP, far lower than their predecessors.” (Ibid, p. 48) The existing members had less to gain from the addition of the new states, and therefore, were able to demand more from them in the negotiating process.
Moreover, surveys signify that the EU business community tends to support Turkish accession even when EU member states otherwise resist it (
2008). By opening up a huge market, with a young demographic and a growing
economy, business will be able to capitalize on these consumers by including
them in the EU’s Economic Community. For Turkish business interests and
producers, having increased foreign investment in a manner similar to the 2004
enlargement where Western businesses were responsible for helping upgrade the
industry in the East (Bauer, 1998, p.13), Turkey can likely expect to see
similar results. Due to the political power these actors have in the domestic
politics of their nation states, it is not surprising that their concerns would
be advanced by nation states. Taylor
Balance of power issues in European politics also dictate state policy preferences on enlargement.
been supportive of Turkey’s
accession “because it would hinder the process of political integration”
(Muftuler-Bac, 2002, p.85) and draw power away from traditional power centers
in Europe, such as .
Member States supportive of a more supranational EU fear Turkey’s accession
will slow or halt that integration, and empower inter-governmentalists to
remove decisions from the collective EU process (Ibid, p.85). Since the
interdependence between Turkey and the EU is asymmetrical, and with bilateral
interdependence more important to Turkey than it is EU member states, Turkey is
willing to sacrifice more in the negotiating process to secure membership
(Moravcsik to Chatzistavrou, 2008)
(Muftuler-Bac, 2002, p.82). France
While both NF and LI offer compelling accounts of enlargement of the European Union, both also fail to adequately explain all aspects of the process. NF provides reasons for why the Commission played a central role in the enlargement process, specifically in its ability to act as a power broker between various states due to the slow accumulation of power from past successful integration overseen by the organization, but oversimplifies the manner in which state actors develop their policies. LI explains how actors within each nation, largely from the commercial and business sectors, put long term goals over short term losses and have been responsible for the push towards expanding the EU’s access to untapped markets. At the core of Liberal intergovernmentalism lies the assumption that governments comprehend and weigh alternative strategies to meet their goals, and that they are not indifferent to them (Moravcsik, 1993, p.497). However, the power supplied to the Commission during the 2004 enlargement and possible future enlargement with
provides ample evidence that states do not always act to advance self interests
above all other considerations. As Moravcsik points out, actors in the
enlargement negotiations may sacrifice short term goals for long term
objectives (Moravcsik, 2003, p. 43). While national governments may focus on
long term aims, the Commission is able to spearhead the enlargement process,
and direct it in ways that are not always expected by its MS (O’Brennan,
1998, p.169). As a result,
both theories provide plausible explanations to the enlargement process in
separate realms, with NF best explaining the political process and LI
elucidating the economic leanings that fuel nation state preferences. Turkey
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