Carmen Gebhard, European Integration Theory: Addressing regional integration? in:

Carmen Gebhard

Unravelling the Baltic Sea Conundrum, page 155 - 157

Regionalism and European Integration Revisited

1. Edition 2008, ISBN print: 978-3-8329-4084-3, ISBN online: 978-3-8452-1239-5

Series: Nomos Universitätsschriften - Politik, vol. 164

Bibliographic information
155 These definitions show that regionalism and integration are very close concepts. One of the essential preconditions for integration is a basic will and disposition to cooperate with other actors. This readiness and voluntariness of action also builds the ground for regionalism. In most cases, entities brought together by way of integration are also united by geographical vicinity. Integration processes often extend to the borders of a certain regional entity, e.g. a continent or parts of it respectively. Thus, in a certain way, European integration can be interpreted as a process of regional integration, a process that strengthens the economic, political and ideological links between the European states by way of cooperation. Baltic Sea Regionalism is based on similar grounds. Processing cooperation and networking across the Baltic Sea rim is an instance of integration, i.e. of the various actors conspiring for cooperation and togetherness. In line with this argumentation, BSR-based regionalism can be defined as yet another case of regional integration. Wrapping up, European integration and Baltic Sea Regionalism can both be seen as living examples of regional integration, with the geographical range building the main qualitative disparity between the two. Macro-level - European Integration Meso-level - Baltic Sea Regionalism Hence, besides the fact that the European project and the process of Baltic Sea Regionalism are closely related to each other (in the sense of macro- and respective subregion), it can also be assumed that they follow a similar logic, the logic of progressive integration. These considerations lead to the next step of argumentation. Given this conceptual closeness between regionalism and integration, it appears legitimate and viable to address the corpus of (European) Integration Theory (EIT) to try to explain the inherent dynamics of Baltic Sea Regionalism and moreover, to trace the correlation between the broader process of European integration and the specific regional development in the BSR. B. Theoretical Approaches to European Integration I. European Integration Theory: Addressing regional integration? Consulting the ‘oracle’ of EIT for the purpose of this study means, first and foremost, to concentrate on the ‘regional’ or ‘regionalist’ focus of the different theoretical approaches at hand. Many analysts equate the concept of ‘regional integration’ to that of ‘(general) integration’ by using the terms interchangeably.547 However, not all approaches to European integration do explicitly emphasize the geographical or regional aspect. According to Rosamond, viewing European integration as an instance of regionalism, i.e. as “the tendency of groups of territorially-adjacent states to cluster together into blocs”, is actually only one approach out of several. He claims that there are at least four different “locations”, where one can seek to find an explanation for European integration:548 547 See for example MATTLI Walter: The Logic of Regional Integration. Europe and Beyond. Cambridge 1999. 548 See ROSAMOND Ben: Theories of European Integration. Basingstoke 2000, pp. 14-15. 156 – International Organisations; – Regionalism; – Complex Policy and Governance Systems; – Subject sui generis. The materialization of the so-called European project has been a major challenge for International Relations (IR) Studies. The European integration process has been accompanied by decades of academic thinking, and thus, it inspired the establishment of what could be called an academic discipline of its own. European Integration Studies have brought about a large stock of theoretical approaches; in various different ways, analysts have tried to contribute to the global understanding of the political, institutional, social and economic processes that came along with the development of the European Community (EC), and later, the EU. Some approaches have managed to clarify certain aspects of integration, while they certainly failed to explain other particulars of the matter. However, it can generally be asserted that most traditional theoretical models of European integration do not specify or focus on the aspect of regionality or regionness. Indeed, most approaches take the fact of geographical adjacency for granted. Christiansen points at the fact that the EU has started very late to develop some sort of spatial approach towards certain policy issues. The process of seeking to achieve territorial integration came relatively late to the European project. For most of its life, the integration process had its emphasis on functional sectoral integration, geared towards greater mobility of goods, people and services […].549 Also Niemann argues that aspects of spatiality for many years have been systematically excluded from the European politics debate.550 This tendency in the European integration process has been largely reflected in the models of explanation drawn by the respective contemporary integration theorists. Generally, the influence of the EU’s development on the course of theory production seems close to obvious. Indeed, there are many examples that show how and to what extent EIT has followed the ups and downs of its subject, one of the most prominent ones being the rise, fall, and comeback of Neo-Functionalism in the wake of the Empty Chair crisis, and later, the SEA respectively.551 Concerning a regional perspective on European integration, these dynamics resulted in a deep-seated inability among the dominant theoretical paradigms in integration studies to analyse spatiality or space. The question of what effects physical vicinity can have on the course of the integrative development of a region cannot be considered very current in traditional EIT. However, some theoretical models, most importantly the ones that involve normative reasoning about identity-related aspects of integration appear to be more dedicated to the effect of regional adjacency with the most prominent example being social constructivist integration theory.552 549 CHRISTIANSEN Thomas: Towards Statehood? The EU’s move towards Constitutionalisation and Territorialisation. In: Centre for European Studies. University of Oslo (ed.): ARENA Working Paper, No. 21, August 2005, pp. 13-14. 550 See NIEMANN Michael: A Spatial Approach to Regionalisms in the Global Economy. Basingstoke 2000, pp. 4-5. 551 See DIEZ Thomas/WIENER Antje: Introducing the Mosaic of Integration Theory. In: Idd. (eds): European Integration Theory. Oxford 2004, pp. 1-24, here p. 13. 552 See chapter “The Discursive Construction of Regions”, p. 170-, and chapter “Why the Explanatory Power of Social Constructivism Remains Low”, p. 177-. 157 The following considerations aim at structuring the plethora of theories at hand according to broad tendencies and developments in order to support and prepare the then following discussion about applicability and interpretation of European Integration Theories for the analytical purposes of this study. II. Broad Tendencies and Competing Traditions in EIT Given the confusingly large number of different approaches to (European) integration, it appears appropriate to offer some kind of reference pattern or line for orientation that helps to overview the bulk of European Integration Theories. It is not in the scope of this chapter to provide an exhaustive picture of the history and the state-of-play in EIT. The following discussion is rather meant to impose some sort of structure onto the large sum of theoretical approaches that decades of research in the field of (European) integration have brought about. There are different ways of how to structure EIT. Diez and Wiener offer a chronological classification that helps to grasp the development of EIT as a strain within the broader framework of IR Studies.553 Before outlining the three main phases of EIT, they draw an overall picture of what they call the “proto-integration theory period,” i.e. the scholar development that set the basis for what later became known as “European Integration Theory”. According to this perspective, classic Functionalism, with David Mitrany being its main representative, poses as some sort of ‘prototype’ for all the theoretical reflections on European integration that followed.554 Wiener and Diez offer an overview that suggests different phases of EIT, emphasising the close relation between the socio-political context and the development of theory. Phase Period of time Main issues in EIT Explanatory after 1960 integration as a process Analytical after 1980 the outcome of integration, EU governance and institutional features Constructive after 1990 different forms and levels of governance social and ideological construction of integration Table 15: Phases in European Integration Theory555 553 See WIENER Antje: Finality vs. Enlargement. Opposing Rationales and Constitutive Practices towards a new Transnational Order. In: Jean Monnet Working Paper, 8/02. New York 2002, p. 4. 554 ‘A Working Peace System’ (1943) was Mitrany’s core publication. Impressed by the war experience, his contributions followed a very strong normative agenda. The main question addressed in his study was how to constrain states and prevent future war through the establishment of a network of transnational organizations on a functional basis. For him this question was more of a global concern than a specific European issue. In fact, Mitrany even strongly opposed the idea of regional integration since he perceived it to replicate rather than to transcend the state-centric design of International Relations. See ROSAMOND Ben: Theories of European Integration. Basingstoke 2000, p. 36. Early Federalism can also be perceived as part of this formative proto-period of European Integration Theory. In contrast to Functionalism, Federalism was more directly related to the European case, claiming, for instance, for the establishment of a European Federation of States. See DIEZ Thomas/WIENER Antje: Introducing the Mosaic of Integration Theory. In: Idd. (eds): European Integration Theory. Oxford 2004, pp. 1-24, here p. 7. 555 Table generated on the basis of DIEZ Thomas/WIENER Antje: Introducing the Mosaic of Integration Theory. In: Idd. (eds): European Integration Theory. Oxford 2004, pp. 1-24, here p. 7.

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Seit 1989 ist es im Ostseeraum zu einer explosionsartigen Entstehung einer Vielzahl von regionalen Initiativen und Zusammenschlüssen gekommen. Der Ostseeraum weist bis heute eine europaweit einzigartig hohe Konzentration an kooperativen regionalen Strukturen auf. Diese bilden gemeinsam ein enges Netzwerk von Vereinigungen, die unter dem Überbegriff der "Ostseezusammenarbeit’ interagieren.

Diese Studie analysiert die Hintergründe dieses regionalen Phänomens oder so genannten „Ostsee-Rätsels“ auf Basis eines Vergleichs zwischen den Regionalpolitiken zweier staatlicher Schlüsselakteure, Schweden und Finnland, wobei der europäische Integrationsprozess als übergeordneter Bezugsrahmen für die Untersuchung dient.