European integration theory is currently in a stage of evolution in which the validity of the traditional theoretical approaches, neofunctionalism and neorealism is increasingly questioned as a consequence of their inability to explain and predict EU developments successfully. The two theories, long-time rivals derived from International Relations (IR) scholarship, are now challenged by an emergent critique grounded in comparative politics theory. Within the IR camp, attempts to bolster the orthodox theories through their synthesis have been unsuccessful. The neofunctionalist-neorealist rivalry continues unproductively despite the advent of a rival paradigm. John Peterson's framework of European Union (EU) decision making, the focal theory of this thesis, seeks to provide a means of marrying IR and comparative political concepts, but requires (and fails to make) a choice between the two IR theories in order to function. The aim of this thesis therefore, is to shed new light on the neofunctionalist-neorealist debate by applying literature to an analysis of the Committee of the Regions. This new EU body affords actors from subnational government their first formal rights in EU policy making, thereby significantly altering the range of actors involved in that process. In order to meet this objective, an original investigation of the Committee was undertaken. It involved research interviews with a series of key actors as well as analysis of the available literature, and concluded that the Committee is having a limited but identifiable impact on the EU policy. The thesis argues that neither neofunctionalism nor neorealism is able to encompass this due to their respective essential premises. It therefore proceeds to propose amendments to the Peterson framework, drawing on its advocacy of a composite model of EU decision making to advance a new framework. The latter harnesses insights obtained from confederal, multi level governance, policy network and new institutionalist theories, and thereby lends support to the burgeoning paradigm shift in favour of comparative politics.
|Date of Award
- Nottingham Trent University