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UBC Theses and Dissertations

From Westphalia to post-Westphalia: European integration and the debate about economic and monetary union, 1980-1991 Merlingen, Michael


Most current studies of the EC/EU assume that the Realist ratio scripta of international relations no longer has anything important to say about politics in Western Europe. Three propositions are widely taken for granted. First, having been written in the language of power, Realism is no longer an appropriate guide to the interaction among Community governments. Especially economic integration represents the interests of societal actors who seek to maximize their material gains in the context of interdependence. Second, the Realist warnings of the dangers of international anarchy are irrelevant in the EC/EU. There governments have stopped to distrust each others' foreign policy intentions because they have come to believe in each others' commitment to the spirit of joint problem-solving. Third, the Realist proposition that states hold fast to sovereignty in order to preserve their self-help capabilities no longer applies to Western Europe. Responding to, the popular cries for welfare benefits (broadly defined), Community governments have made their peace with the fact that the effective, management of interdependence requires that the attributes of sovereignty are shared among a number of interlocking governmental and non-governmental actors. Together these Idealist arguments support the thesis that the EC/EU has by now evolved beyond the international state of nature and become a post-Westphalian utopia: a transnational polity in which power politics, Hobbesian fear and sovereignty-consciousness play little role in shaping policy. I probe the descriptive power of this Idealist thesis in detailed case studies of the French, German and British policy debates about European monetary integration and German reunification. I find that there are important strands of Idealism in the politics of integration. Yet, the EC/EU is not (yet) the post-Westphalian utopia portrayed by many students of integration. In short, Realism is not obsolete.

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