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The evolution of European integration since 1950 has been considerable. The European Union (EU) has gained in stature, taking on and aspiring to new functions across the policy spectrum and challenging the conceptualisation of the evolving structure for joint problem-solving, deliberation and decision-making. This chapter investigates the legal output of the Council of Ministers, the European Parliament (EP) and the European Commission (EC) as dependent variables. It identifies fundamental trends in the 'demands' made by political actors to use or to refrain from using the EU's para-constitutional resources and opportunities. The chapter explores the long-term trends of the EC/EU system and the respective impacts on EC/EU policy-making in the Member States. It looks at the effective use of treaty provisions and also explores the real 'demand' for different procedural 'offers' or opportunity structures at hand.
Analysis of the fifteen Member States suggests that there are very heterogeneous interests in the policy domains of the European Union (EU). Looking at one major indicator for institutional change, the legal constitutions of Member States, the findings show again a modest rate of EC/EU-related revisions. Participation in European integration and the adaptation of the relevant and valid community law, the 'acquis communautaire', has forced the Member States again and again to make incremental amendments to their constitutions. However, an overview of the constitutional changes in the fifteen national systems reveals that the rate and the salience of changes at the European level has not been matched by analogous structural revolutions in the Member States. One major conclusion is thus: political and administrative strategies have in all states been geared to use existing constitutional and institutional opportunity structures and to improve forms of intra-state co-ordination.
This book takes up traditional approaches to political science. It aims to offer a mixture of conventional and specific analyses and insights for different groups of readers. In view of the European Union's multi-level and multi-actor polity, the book highlights the complex procedural and institutional set-up of nation states preparing and implementing decisions made by the institutions of the European Community (EC). In looking at the emerging and evolving realities of the European polity, it shows how European institutions and Member States (re-)act and interact in a new institutional and procedural set-up. It explores how governmental and non-governmental actors in different national settings adapt to common challenges, constraints and opportunities for which they are mainly themselves responsible. The book discusses the Belgian policy toward European integration as a significant demonstration of its commitment to multilateralism and international co-operation in security and economic affairs. Attitudes to European integration in Denmark, Germany, Finland, Greece, and Spain are discussed. Tendencies towards 'Europeanisation' and 'sectoralisation' of the ministerial administration during the process of European integration and the typical administrative pluralism of the Italian political system seem to have mutually reinforced each other. Strong multi-level players are able to increase their access and influence at both levels and to use their position on one level for strengthening their say on the other. German and Belgian regions might develop into these kinds of actors. A persistent trend during the 1990s is traced towards stronger national performers, particularly in terms of adaptations and reactions to Maastricht Treaty.
This introduction presents an overview of the key concepts covered in the subsequent chapters of this book. The book takes up traditional approaches to political science. In view of the European Union's multi-level and multi-actor polity, it highlights the complex procedural and institutional set-up of nation states preparing and implementing decisions made by the institutions of the European Community (EC). In looking at the emerging and evolving realities of the European polity, the book explores how European institutions and Member States (re-)act and interact in a new institutional and procedural set-up. It offers a mixture of conventional and specific analyses and insights for different groups of readers. For scholars of international relations, European integration and comparative politics, these evolutions involve looking at both the national level, as in comparative studies, and at the European level, as in integration-related approaches.