Skip to 0 minutes and 7 seconds From what we have learned before, one could get the feeling that the nation-states that have decided to take the path of integration have irreversibly been weakened. And most certainly, when looking at certain policy areas, such as the single market, monetary policy within the Eurozone, competition policy, and many others, this is a conclusion with much backing. But as you have now also discussed amongst yourselves, there is also another way of looking at the renegotiation of the nation-state in light of European integration. In 1992, Alan Milward published his influential book entitled, The European Rescue of the Nation-State, in which he developed a different interpretation of the early integrative years.
Skip to 0 minutes and 55 seconds Milward, and since him many more, puts forward the notion that the then six European states decided to integrate, not for ideological reasons believing that limiting their own powers would be the right or moral thing to do. Rather, the European elites of then had made a strategic decision based on a cost-benefit analysis. That with the horrors of the two World Wars still freshly ingrained in the majority of Europe’s population, European integration was the only possibility to save the nation-state from collapse. Consequently, European integration and the associated pooling of authorities in supranational institutions was a mechanism to rebuild the individual countries as nation-states and to provide the European population with a sense of security.
Skip to 1 minute and 50 seconds To quote Milward, “The evolution of the European community since 1945 has been an integral part of the reassertion of the nation-state as an organisational concept. Without the process of integration, the nation-state could not have offered to its citizens the same measure of security and prosperity which it has provided and which has justified its survival.” While this could be one way of looking at why shortly after the end of World War II some European countries decided to integrate, the question of whether the same logic could explain subsequent EU enlargements arises. Milward’s followers argued that, yes, this logic is still applicable, particularly when explaining the European Union’s enlargements to the East in the post-2000 period.
Skip to 2 minutes and 40 seconds More precisely, they draw parallels between post-World War II Europe and post-Communist Eastern Europe, arguing that also here, the newly established countries of Central, Eastern, and Southeast Europe suffered a similar situation as the countries emerging from World War II some 45 years earlier. They all faced a lack of confidence on the part of their populations. And as such, saw integration into a greater European whole as the only possibility to safeguard the nation-state from complete obsoleteness.
European integration: the rescue of the nation-state?
In this video, Dr Marek Neuman revisits the thesis of Alan Milward to explain how the process of European integration impacts the nation-state.
European integration and the associated pooling of authorities in supranational institutions was a mechanism to rebuild the individual countries as nation-states after the devastation of the Second World War. A second goal was to provide the European population with a sense of security. Although we do see that European integration moves decision-making power in many policy areas from the national to the supranational level, this does not necessarily mean that the state is weakened by this process.
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