Integration of Europe



  • European integration is the process of industrial, economic, political, legal, social and cultural integration of states wholly or partially in Europe or nearby.
  • More integration implies greater shared decision-making, shared laws, and shared legal and political systems
  • The process of European Integration has deepened since the Second World War


Timeline of European Integration


Theoretical Bases of European Integration

  • Why do independent states that cherish their sovereignty choose to align themselves with other states to integrate their economies, commerce and governance? Under what circumstances would a sovereign state choose to cede any part of its sovereignty to an un-elected body over which it has no control or at best shared control?
  • The following theories have evolved to understand European Integration since World War 2:
    • Functionalism and Neo-functionalism
      • Functionalism results from a belief that if national institutions are not able to deal satisfactorily with the challenges they face, an international institution might be able to do so
      • One of the many examples of functionalism is international air traffic control, which is necessary for international air travel and which no single country can undertake alone
    • Inter-governmentalism
      • This theory suggests that states fundamentally wish to retain their sovereignty and will join forces only when it is in their interest to do so without regard to what the supranational elites believe they should do
      • With the culmination of Brexit, there is a powerful argument that intergovernmentalism not only explains the past but suggests plausible scenarios for the future
    • Balance of Power
      • According to this theory, countries engage in integration when they believe that they are not as strong militarily as some of their rivals and do not know their intentions
      • In sum, the theory posits that the integration that one sees in the EU was neither the result of the economic conditions that existed in Europe after World War II nor of the latent desire to recreate the Concert of Europe.
        • It was not even a result of trying, rather it was done with the intent to “keep the Americans in, the Russians out and the Germans down”


Reasons for European Integration

  • The following reasons resulted in coming together of sovereign European Nations
    • To promote peace, its values and the well-being of its citizens
    • To offer freedom, security and justice without internal borders, while also taking appropriate measures at its external borders to regulate asylum and immigration and prevent and combat crime
    • To establish an internal market
    • To achieve sustainable development based on balanced economic growth and price stability and a highly competitive market economy with full employment and social progress
    • To protect and improve the quality of the environment
    • To promote scientific and technological progress
    • To combat social exclusion and discrimination
    • To promote social justice and protection, equality between women and men, and protection of the rights of the child
    • To enhance economic, social and territorial cohesion and solidarity among EU countries
    • To respect its rich cultural and linguistic diversity
    • To establish an economic and monetary union whose currency is the euro


The History of European Integration process

  • After the Second World War (WWII), in 1945, Europe was destroyed. The United Nations founding Charter was signed in San Francisco that year.
  • Many people believed that a more united Europe could be envisioned, and started to work on the first pro European movement as a new model for peace in the region
  • The concept of European unity was a barricade against the return of WWII nationalism.
    • However, the idea was finally achieved and in 1949, the Council of Europe was founded in London by 10 countries at the first pan European assembly promoting democracy and human rights.
  • France and Germany pushed to establish an economic alliance and in 1951 the European Coal and Steel Community was created in Paris by France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxemburg
  • Driven by this attainment, the 6 countries decided to extend the economic deal to other economic sectors and in 1957 the Treaty of Rome was signed, creating the European Economic Community (EEC)
  • Further, In the 1980s the European Economic Community (EEC) opened its doors to the emerging democracies of Southern Europe (Greece in 1981 and Spain and Portugal in 1986)
    • This enlargement of the EEC triggered political stability and economic development in Europe’s Mediterranean region
  • Finally in 1992, the European Union (EU) was shaped (treaty signed in Maastricht) launching the single internal market.
  • Thus, more than 50 years after its first steps, the EU is a unique global example of real integration of different states, a reality that includes 450 million people living in 27 countries.
    • This dynamic integration has involved the establishment of supranational EU structures and the alignment of a wide array of policies relating to economics, agriculture, energy, monetary, foreign policy and defence, and also in science, technology and innovation.