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Reflections on the History and Historiography of European Integration

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  21 October 2023

Mathieu Segers
Affiliation:
Universiteit Maastricht, Netherlands
Steven Van Hecke
Affiliation:
Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium
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Summary

European integration is not the result of a preconceived plan. It rather consists of messy procedures and heated discussions. Ad hoc decision-making, crises and even utter chaos have been constants in the history of the European Union (EU). This complex reality has induced scholars to zoom in on its infamous ‘muddling through’ to better understand what is going on in European integration. Consequently, the primary focus of research has been on ways, means and outcomes: inter-state bargaining, and the resulting treaties and European institutions. However, this focus on institutional ways and means, and on the outcomes of inter-state bargaining, has implied that ideas about Europe’s future mostly have been treated as proxies of specific, rather one-dimensional, state, or institutional, interests. This leads to distorted images of history. If the recent crisis years made one thing very clear, it is this: that it proves quite complex to adequately analyse the multilevel, multipolicy and demoi-cracy muddling through that characterises the EU’s laborious management of crises and day-to-day politics and policies, let alone that a mere focus on institutional interests would be sufficient.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2023

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