Theorising the EU in crisis: de-Europeanisation as disintegration

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Ben Rosamond Department of Political Science, University of Copenhagen, Denmark

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The current ‘perfect storm’ of European crises seems to provide evidence that the EU is suffering from severe tensions that could reverse many of the key integration gains of the past seven decades. The presence of apparently existential threats to the EU has provoked calls to theorise ‘dis integration’. This presumes, first and foremost, that scholarship is lagging behind urgent real world developments. It could also be argued that any attempt to theorise integration should by definition be capable of theorising disintegration. EU studies scholarship has tended, in recent years, to shy away from the analysis of integration, developing instead a range of subliteratures that together presume institutional and systemic resilience. The paper makes three broad arguments. First, it notes that any return to the analysis of integration/disintegration presents a risk for scholarship, namely the fallacy of sampling from past experience to project future probabilities. Second, it demonstrates that earlier neofunctionalist scholarship had, in fact, developed quite sophisticated accounts of disintegration, which, in turn illustrated the importance of understanding the key role played by political economy and sociological dynamics in European integration. Finally, the paper explores the ways in which extant scholarly knowledge about the EU may inhibit the development of robust policy understanding of potentially disintegrative dynamics.

Ben Rosamond Department of Political Science, University of Copenhagen, Denmark

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