Carmen Gebhard, Intermediate Synthesis: Crosslinking Typologies and Theories in:

Carmen Gebhard

Unravelling the Baltic Sea Conundrum, page 188 - 190

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
188 This technical approach seeks to reflect the analytical weaknesses of constructivist explanation as laid out in this chapter. While the descriptive output of constructivist applications is rather dense, there is a clear lack in explanatory power. Constructivist perspectives often refrain from a systematic interpretation of the social interactions observed. Even though the main constructivist working method, content analysis, offers a good instrument for the identification of strategic motives and interests underlying social and political action, the explanatory output of most empirical studies stemming from the constructivist camp largely remains low. Moreover, despite their focus on the political process (most importantly, the discursive process preparing and framing political decision-making and acting) social constructivists are often reluctant to refer to the issue of finality. The potential outcome of a sequence of discursive action gets less analytical attention than the process itself. The rigid concentration of analysis on various aspects of discursive exchanges often appears to distort the ratio between the political arena where actions are being promoted and “constructed discursively” and the acts of factual cooperation, the establishment of material structures that transcend the realm of affirmative declarations and political arguing. What appears to be one of the most persistent misbelieves of Social Constructivism is that elitist discourse is expected to have – at least – a long-term impact on the broader political public and thus, an unconditional bearing on the formation of ideology and identity. This perspective does not only neglect the formative effect of individual perceptions about (material) political developments, it also denies (or at least underestimates) the direct impact of political decisions and policies on norms and beliefs. II. Intermediate Synthesis: Crosslinking Typologies and Theories This chapter seeks to draw reference lines from the constructivist Region-Building Approach (RBA) by Neumann over the typologies developed by e.g. Hettne (the Old/New dichotomy) to the array of theories of European integration discussed in the first part of this section by depicting the linkages (or “crosslinks”) between them in form of a synoptical overview. It is arranged according to the guiding principles that appear to be underlying each counterpart within a certain dichotomy. Equally, various specific characteristics of a type (e.g. Hard Regionalism) are seen to be reflected within a certain theoretical strain in EIT (e.g. Liberal Intergovernmentalism). The scheme starts out from the Old/New pair, since its conceptual implications are perceived to be most significant for this kind of synopsis, classifying them as follows: – “old” in terms of tendencially narrow or “special with regard to objectives” and – “new” in the sense of a “more comprehensive multidimensional process”670 670 HETTNE Björn: The New Regionalism: Implications for Development and Peace. In: HETTNE Björn/INOTAI András: The New Regionalism. Implications for Global Development and International Security. Helsinki 1994, pp. 1-49, here p. 1-2. 189 REGIONALISM OLD NEW top down hard bottom up soft theoretical approaches outside in these approaches study the region from the outside perspective, suggesting a systemic view dominated by the international/global context or more generally, by factors coming from outside inside out the formation of regions is thought to be effected from within, assuming a kind of core or centre within each region that builds the source out of which this regionness emerges geopolitical/material definition regionness as a fact, involving rigid bordering cultural/normative definition constructed or grown regionness, implying fuzziness of borders systemic approaches with an inherent globalism neorealist/intergovernmentalist strain critical approaches with a distinct focus on “domestic”/internal affairs functionalist & “sociological” strain Table 22: Explaining Regionalism: Crosslinking Typologies and Theories Since the mere identification of dichotomies as well as the respective characterisation of typologies (Old/New and Hard/Soft Regionalism) offers little substance from a more abstract and theoretical perspective, such an overview might help to couple these largely descriptive categories with the bulk of theoretical approaches. Additionally, it also allows the reader to place the general discussion about theories in the wider context of regionalism studies as introduced in the first section of this study.671 Tassinari suggests a “continuum” for this kind of structuring overview in order to allow for the analytical consideration of positions ‘in between’.672 Accordingly, this scheme should not be perceived to be generally applicable or to comply with any sort of question linked to the positioning of a certain theory alongside the established categories. Following a rigid interpretation, the two “crosslinking columns” could be seen as either end of a spectrum of approaches. 671 See in particular chapter “Regionalism – Definitions, Delimitations and Typologies”, p. 34-. 672 See TASSINARI Fabrizio: Mare Europaeum. Baltic Sea Region Security and Cooperation from post-Wall to post-Enlargement Europe. Copenhagen 2004, p. 16. "region" approaches assigned 190 III. Application Pattern II: The Correlation Between Meso and Macro-Level The question of applicability of EIT can also be posed in another context. Are the European Integration Theories at hand suitable to explain the correlation between macro-level integration and the integrative dynamics at the meso-level (i.e. in the BSR)? It appears obvious that the analysis aiming to answer this question has to focus on the potential “regional dimension” featured by various theoretical models. Hence, virtually “applicable” approaches should (at least) provide an understanding of – how the EU relates to its own (territorial) parts, – and vice versa, how these “parts” relate to the overall EU framework. Trying to remain within the practical scope of this study, I am neither willing nor able to detect these aspects in every single approach to integration that the last decades of European studies have put forth. Hence, I would like to approach this analytical complex by applying a (negative) logic of exclusion, by asking: What limits are set to the applicability of European Integration Theory when it comes to the explanation of complex political processes between the EU and a European regional entity such as the BSR? The search for the answer to this question should first lead us to the consideration of the following tendencies in (European) Integration Theory: – Given the fact that most European Integration Theories are designed to explain EU internal processes, there is a clear lack in emphasis on the specific circumstances of foreign policy.673 Since the complex interrelation between the EU and the BSR as a European meso-region can be regarded as part of a “grey zone” between the EU’s internal and external policy dimension, it is likely to constitute a marginal or borderline case for most theoretical models available in the field. – The traditional (and many of the current) approaches to European integration have been (explicitly or inexplicitly) designed for the European macro-level, i.e. the European integration process. These models largely tend to be either state-oriented or empirically focussed on the structural process of institutionalisation and the build-up of a (potentially) supranational polity sui generis. – The major strands in EIT seem to base on a “unitarist thesis”, following a certain “drive for centrality” which implies that their analytical sharpness is low by nature when it comes to the explanation of “peripheral” or decentralising phenomena.674 – Most theoretical approaches to European integration draw a sharp line between macro-level and sub-level action. Instead of identifying and analysing the linkages between the two (or more) levels, the respective political processes are largely treated as two different and distinct political phenomena. When it comes to the discussion of approaches that consider the complex correlation between different levels of political action, one specific connotation may certainly crop up: the one of multi-level governance models in EIT. In fact, as laid out in the context of the first application pattern, governance models do not only describe the dispersion of competence across territorial levels but they also focus on the interconnection of 673 See CHRISTIANSEN Thomas/TONRA Ben: The Study of EU Foreign Policy. Between international relations and European studies. In: Idd. (eds): Rethinking European Union Foreign Policy. Manchester/New York 2004, pp. 1-9, here p. 4. 674 See PARKER Noel: Integrated Europe and its ‘Margins’. Action and Reaction. In: Id./ ARMSTRONG Bill (eds): Margins in European Integration. Houndmills 2000, pp. 3-27, here p. 18.

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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.