«A thesis submitted to the Department of Political Science and International Studies of the University of Birmingham for the degree of Doctor of ...»
European Union Policy from a Discursive Perspective‟, Geopolitics, 9: 2 (2004), pp. 292-309, p. 302 34 mindscapes and meaning.71 The major tools used by the scholars in this approach are the examination of discursive practices, deconstruction and the use of critical theory. 72 The contribution they make is to underline the ways in which studying and modeling international politics are also acts of international politics. 73 Examples of this type of border research are the works of Paasi74 and Newman, 75 as well as most of the studies reviewed in the previous section. All of these studies provide both theoretical and empirical examples of how these approaches conceptualise borders.
Thus, this discussion shows that there are different approaches to studying borders. These are a result of the ontological assumptions made as well as the different epistemological and methodological tools used for conducting the research. As this review of the various types of Border Studies has shown, the different opinions on these matters have had enormous impact on Border Studies because they have led to the emergence of diverse (sometimes opposing) ways for conceptualising borders. By bringing to the fore these issues of contention and allowing various ways for tackling them, these debates have helped to outline the different characteristics and effects that borders have. Some of the most contentious issues, which emerged out of the positivist – constructivist debates on the study of borders, are questions such as what are borders a result of, which are the most appropriate tools for their examination and where should one look when studying them? Each of these issues should implicitly, if not explicitly, be addressed when conducting border-related research. If all the studies reviewed have addressed these problems in one way or another, these points have to be raised for the present inquiry as well. This is the topic of the following parts of the chapter but before 71 Henk van Houtum, „The Geopolitics of Borders and Boundaries‟, Geopolitics, 10: 4 (2005), pp. 672p. 673 72 Heather Nicol, Julian Minghi, „Continuing Relevance of Borders in Contemporary Contexts‟, Geopolitics, 10: 4 (2005), pp. 680-687, p. 680 73 John Williams, „Territorial Borders, International Ethics and Geography: Do Good Fences still Make Good Neighbours?‟, Geopolitics, 8: 2 (2003), pp. 25-46, p. 37 74 See for example Anssi Paasi, „Boundaries as Social Practice and Discourse: The Finnish-Russian Border‟, Regional Studies, 33: 7 (1999), pp. 669-680; Anssi Paasi, „Deconstructing Regions: Notes on the Scales of Spatial Life‟, Environment and Planning A, 23: 2 (1991), pp. 239-256; Anssi Paasi, „Europe as a Social Process and Discourse‟, European Urban and Regional Studies, 8: 1 (2001), pp. 7-28; Anssi Paasi, „Boundaries as Social Processes: Territoriality in the World of Flows‟, Geopolitics, 3: 1 (1998), pp.
69-88 75 David Newman, Anssi Paasi, „Fences and Neighbours in the Postmodern World: Boundary Narratives in Political Geography‟, Progress in Human Geography, 22: 2 (1998), pp. 186-207; David Newman, „On Borders and Power: a Theoretical Framework‟, Journal of Borderland Studies, 18: 1 (2003), pp. 13-25;
David Newman, „Boundaries, Borders, and Barriers: Changing Geographical Perspectives on Territorial Lines‟ in Mathias Albert, David Jacobson, Yosef Lapid (eds), Identities, Borders, Orders – Rethinking International Relations Theory (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2001), pp. 137-151 35 addressing these matters, I turn my attention to presenting the last major academic debate relevant to this study.
2.2.3. Debates on the role of the European Commission in the EU integration process The aim of this section is to work out which would be the most appropriate focus for a project that wants to investigate the way construction and reconstruction of EU borders has occurred. As the discussion so far has shown, one of the most important factors contributing to the transformation of borders that we are witnessing today is the emergence of integration efforts embodied in an unique organisation, the EU. Therefore, in deciding where to focus the study, my premise has been that its findings will be most pertinent if I concentrate on an institution that by its characteristics is distinctive from other international institutions and is bound to promote integration, thus ensuring the continued existence of border constructing and reconstructing conditions. Such an organisation will successfully highlight the unique features of the ambiguous configurations of borders under integration. To achieve this goal, I have to engage with the existing literature on the process of integration in the EU. In order to identify the appropriate object at which to focus the study, I have to draw on research that examines the institutional structure of the Union. Then I outline the major studies on the European Commission. This enables me to present the differing views on the role of the Commission in furthering integration and building on that to explain why I argue that the Commission can influence the integration process and the nature and scope of its input in EU border transformations.
Simultaneously with the practical efforts towards unification in Western Europe in the 1950s the academic field focused on examining the integration process started to develop. Out of the existing research on this issue, the area that is of particular concern for me consists of the studies that examine the institutional structure of the EU. The contributions of scholars, such as Weidenfeld and Wessels, 76 El-Agraa, 77 Pinder,78 76 Werner Weidenfeld, Wolfgang Wessels, Europe From A to Z (Luxembourg: Office for Official Publications of the European Communities, 1997) 77 El-Agraa (ed.), The European Union – Economics and Policies (8th ed.) (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007) 78 John Pinder, The European Union, a Very Short Introduction (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001) 36 McCormick,79 Dinan,80 Peterson and Shackleton,81 Nugent,82 and Hix83 have provided a thorough examination of the institutional structure of the EU. A common line that emerges out of this type of studies is that the major institutions of the Union can be broadly divided into two main categories. Firstly, some bodies, such as the Council of Ministers and the European Council, are conventional and represent above all the interests of the individual member states. Furthermore, the way in which they take their decisions does not differ in any substantial way from traditional methods of negotiations in international relations. Hence, the way in which these institutions operate retains by and large the Westphalian dynamic under which the main building block is the nationstate. Furthermore, for at least some schools of thought such as intergovernmentalists, the nation-state continues to be the ultimate authority because even when decisions that pull its sovereignty are taken, the nation-state explicitly agrees to that. Thus, in theory, nothing outside the legitimate government of the country in question is able to impose on it legally binding decisions. Following the way in which such institutions reach decisions, this kind of EU bodies are referred to as intergovernmental.
The second type of institutions, which are embodied by the European Parliament, the European Commission and the ECJ, are a novel and unique category of organisations. They represent a departure from the supremacy of the nation-state in international relations. They are vested with powers and competences that allow them under specific procedures and in particular areas, to adopt measures that are legally binding for all the countries that are members of an international organisation even if some of these countries did not agree to these measures. These institutions are called supranational institutions. To date, the EU is the international organisation in which supranational institutions are most advanced. This is the most important reason, why the Union is regarded as the most developed instance of regional integration in the world. 84 79
John McCormick, Understanding the European Union - a Concise Introduction (2nd ed.) (Basingstoke:
Palgrave, 2002) 80
Desmond Dinan, Ever Closer Union: an Introduction to European Integration (3rd ed.) (Basingstoke:
Palgrave Macmillan, 2005) 81 John Peterson, Michael Shackleton (eds), The Institutions of the European Union (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002) 82 Neill Nugent, The Government and Politics of the European Union (3rd ed.) (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1994) 83 Simon Hix, The Political System of the European Union (2nd ed.) (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005) 84 Examples of such claim are Jeppe Tranholm-Mikkelsen, „Neo-Functionalism: Obstinate or Obsolete? A Reappraisal in the Light of the New Dynamism of the EC‟, Millennium: Journal of International Studies, 37 The supranational institutions of the EU, in distinction to the intergovernmental ones, ostensibly act in the interest of the whole Community. This is well exemplified by the traditional perception of the European Commission as impartial and neutral. 85 According to the Treaty of Rome, the Commission has to act: “in the general interest of the Community”86 and to be “completely independent in the performance of their duties”.87 Importantly, the supranational institutions, such as the Commission, are charged with acting in the interests of the Union as a whole in opposition to intergovernmental institutions protecting the interests of individual member states. This “division of labour” between the various institutions of the EU is a result of the careful balance between ensuring the achievement of the aims of integration and the protection of the autonomy of the member states. The latter is a necessary prerequisite that makes integration possible in the first place. The need to have such a “division of labour” put in place, points to the difficulties in achieving agreed upon targets that any integration effort is likely to face. The responsibilities of each type of EU institutions mean that when differences occur, it is going to be the supranational ones that in protecting the interests of the Union as a whole can be expected to argue in favour of integration, thus also maintaining the existence of crucial conditions that lead to transformation of borders. Thus, the first reason why one can expect supranational institutions, such as the Commission, to promote integration is because of their legal duties under the Treaties of the EC/EU.
Therefore, under conditions of integration, conflicts do not disappear altogether but are resolved in a different way. This issue is explored in greater depth in an early contribution by Haas. He looks into different ways of resolving conflicts and relates them to different levels of integration. His argument is that when integration is more advanced, there is greater possibility to find a solution different from traditional diplomacy‟s “lowest common denominator”. According to him, such an outcome is possible when an international body that performs mediatory services to the states 20: 1 (1991), pp. 1-22, p. 1 and Mark Pollack, „Delegation, Agency and Agenda Setting in the European Community‟, International Organization, 51: 1 (1997), pp. 99-134, p. 102 85 See for example Neill Nugent, „At the Heart of the Union‟ in Neill Nugent (ed.), At the Heart of the Union – Studies of the European Commission (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1997), pp. 1-26, p. 13 86 Article 157, point 2 of the Treaty Establishing the European Economic Community 87 Ibid.
38 involved exists.88 As Haas points out, these more advanced types of conflict resolution usually imply the expansion of the mandate of the supranational agency. 89 It is precisely this link, pointed out by scholars such as Haas, between resolution of disagreements through further integration and the expansion of the mandate of the supranational institutions that constitute a plausible explanation why one can expect supranational institutions to be in support of more integration. Importantly, this predisposition of supranational institutions to promoting integration is acknowledged and accepted even by intergovernmentalist scholars. 90 Supranational institutions promote integration because such a development is expected to lead to further expansion of their own powers and competences, which is the ultimate goal of every political interaction. Thus, the second reason to expect that the Commission will be promoting further integration and with this decreasing the significance of internal borders, is its self-interest. It is these two reasons that make supranational institutions act in favour of further integration. Hence, I focus my research on the European Commission.
Neo-functionalism has over the years developed an explicit account of how exactly the Commission advocates more integration. This is captured by the notion of “cultivated spillover”. It is one of the three types of spillover identified by Neofunctionalist literature.91 It provides: “a specific theory of how once created, supranational institutions act as strategic advocates on behalf of functional linkage and deeper/ wider integration.” 92 In some academic literature, such as the one dealing with
public policy, such advocates are labelled “policy entrepreneurs”. 93 According to Burns:
88 Ernst Haas, „International Integration: The European and the Universal Process‟, International Organization, 15: 3 (1961), pp. 366-392, pp. 367-368 89
Haas cited in Mette Eilstrup-Sangiovanni (ed.), Debates on European Integration (Basingstoke:
Palgrave Macmillan, 2006), p. 95 90 See for example, Andrew Moravcsik, The Choice for Europe: Social Purpose and State Power from Messina to Maastricht (London: UCL Press, 1999), p. 492. Although Intergovernmentalists accepts this predisposition of supranational institutions to promote integration, they deny (with the exception of the SEA) these institutions‟ ability to successfully exercise actual influence towards furthering integration.
91 For the different types of spillover see Mette Eilstrup-Sangiovanni (ed.), Debates on European Integration (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006), pp. 94-95; Jeppe Tranholm-Mikkelsen, „NeoFunctionalism: Obstinate or Obsolete? A Reappraisal in the Light of the New Dynamism of the EC‟, Millennium: Journal of International Studies, 20: 1 (1991), pp. 1-22, p. 6; Arne Niemann, Phillippe Schmitter, „Neofunctionalism‟ in Thomas Diez, Antje Wiener (eds), European Integration Theory (2nd ed.) (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009), pp. 45-66.