1 – All empires fall sooner or later
Balkans Baltics Germany Europe Ukraine
*Rise and fall of Europe
This is an except from Meditations on Diplomacy: Comparative Cases in Diplomatic Practice and Foreign Policy
The idea of Europe was grand, but also gradual. The project of rebuilding after World War II was shared, and the US Marshall Plan was of huge importance, but the sense was also of Europe needing to do something organisationally for itself, and to do it in a unified form. From this, the idea of unity as an overarching goal began to develop. But the first steps were very specific ones. They began with the formation of the European Coal and Steel Community in 1951. Unity and cooperation in this sector were clearly necessary for the industrial redevelopment of Europe – but theorists began to read such steps of ‘functional cooperation’ as preconditions for wider cooperation, and formal regimes of cooperation.
From the start there was a triptych of organisational methods – beginning with harmonisation, then cooperation, and finally a regime of coordination. It is this last stage that Europe has now reached, and it is this that has caused grave disquiets among many member states who see the coordinating bureaucracy and regulatory frameworks of Brussels as having intruded upon national sovereignty in the old Westphalian sense of sovereign states having sovereign public administrations serving sovereign constitutions and laws.
This was very much the essence of debate in the UK, as it underwent its 2016 referendum on continued membership – the extent to which sovereignty had been eroded by a coordinating machinery in Brussels, which was not answerable to a UK electorate, or even any electorate.
The triptych of harmonisation, cooperation and coordination was not designed as a progressive one. It was simply a means to analyse types of inter-governmental organisation. Harmonisation is to do with common principles, including in the case of the OECD, common principles of economic planning and behaviour. Cooperation is to do with states agreeing a joint venture, or a float of ventures, but it is still the states who call the shots, even if they have a secretariat in common for those ventures. Coordination, however, is very much the realm of a supra-state body that keeps the participating states in line with treaty agreements which have the status and power of law.
The tension in the growth of the European Union, between steps of increasingly functional cooperation, spreading from the coal and steel sector to others, but always centred on technical functionality – and the grand vision of statesmen like Jean Monnet, who in fact had been in charge precisely of coal and steel, but had also in an astounding precocity been Deputy Secretary-General of the League of Nations at age 31, that envisaged a new European economic order and, finally, a European political union – haunted the growth of the Union as it passed through its treaty phases, the provisions of each treaty being adopted into national laws
The Treaty of Rome in 1957 created what was then called the European Economic Community, and it might be said that the founding intent was not yet fully political. By the time of the 1993 Maastricht Treaty, the European Union had a firm economic mission and political intent. Europe absorbed a range of sovereign powers from its members in order to achieve a functional and public administrative commonality of standards and procedures for all members. A member state like the UK negotiated an ‘opt out’ of some of these commonalities, but for the majority of the states in the EU, the commonality of European standards and procedures is either an aspirational or achieved reality.
There are, however, two particular aspects of the European project which bear note – one is a note of pronounced concern for certain members, such as Greece, and that is to do with economic and fiscal policy; and the other strikes a note of very great concern for neighbouring Russia, and that is a European common security policy which has no choice but to achieve its operationalisation through NATO.
- The publication is not an editorial. It reflects solely the point of view and argumentation of the author. The publication is presented in the presentation. Start in the previous issue. The original is available at : e-ir.info