TheEuropean Union`s Disintegration is Imminent
Todate, few attempts at theorizing European integration, and, byextension, its falling apart have been made (Kollen 122). Onetheorization can be viewed within the scope of empire formation, andthe concept of imperial overstretches. This viewpoint is premised onthe idea that the expansion of the European territory significantlyundermines its cohesion. Another theorisation is "communitarianism."This premise asserts that the increase in heterogeneity of the EUmember states may trigger a sense of alienation among the EUcitizenry. In the end, citizens may become nostalgic for their place(national or regional), where more identical values can be found(123). This paper explores the current theories of Europeanintegration and the factors that predict the underlying issues thatmay trigger or impede the future integration of Ukraine into theEuropean Union.
Inthis context, the term disintegration will be perceived as either adecline in the series of joint policies adopted and executed in theEU, the capacity of the EU to coerce individual member states todevelop and implement policies, or the total number of EU countries(Webber 2). The before-mentioned considered, the current crisis inthe European Union may not surprise Realist International Relationstheorists (3). John Misheimer, an American realist, contends that theEU will disintegrate if American troops are withdrawn from Europe.Reason being, West European states would increasingly view each otherwith suspicion and fear, as was the case before the cold war.However, contrary to this view, uncertainty regarding the reliabilityof American troops to European military heightened defencecooperation among the EU member states (4). Therefore, Ukraine mayseek entry into the European Union for security and geopoliticalreasons (Wolczuk 5). Since most Russians doubted the authenticity ofUkraine`s independence, Ukraine is seeking integration into the EU toassert its independence.
Intergovernmentalismis among the theory that is closest to realism (Webber 4).Intergovernmentalists such as Hoffman Stanley contend that continuedintegration is not preordained and that the authority ofsupranational agencies such as the EU is conditional, limited,dependent, and reversible. As such, integration is contingent on howmuch the preferences of the primary member states coincide with theirdomestic policies. As such, Ukrainian elites have always advocatedfor an advancement of Ukraine`s geopolitical significance to the West(Wolczuk 5). However, Ukrainian elites failed to foster Ukraine`seconomic and democratic performance, which is what the EU holds dear,as opposed to Ukraine`s geographical location. As a consequence,Europe has always kept Ukraine at an arm`s length (6).
Thetheory of international relations institutionalism representssomewhat optimistic European Union`s prospects (Webber 5).Institutionalists assert that "regimes" such as the EU helpmember states realise a high level of permanence through offering amedium through which problems can be overcome collectively. However,if there is no hegemony or collective interests, such organisationscannot live long. Thus, institutionalists premise the capacity of theEU remaining stable to the sufficiency of common interests in membercountries to maintain a close connection and whether the strongeststates will continue supporting the integration process (7).Consequently, as opposed to nations such as Russia and Turkey,Ukraine is positioned ideally to assert itself as being ‘European,`in addition to having a history with the European countries (Wolczuk5). Although Ukrainians lack the more tangible features of beingEuropean – democracy, high standards of living, and a welfare state– the country`s geographical and historical ‘Europeanness`justifies its inclusion in Europe.
Historical-institutionalisttheorists contend that the ability of EC member governments to governthe Commission and the European Court of Justice has weakened and theprocess of integration less reversible (Webber 7). A number ofvariables can be attributed to how ‘gaps` in the ability of the ECmember states govern the supranational actors. The gaps include theautonomy (partial) of member countries, unanticipated consequences,the limited decision-making timeframe accorded to decision-makers andchanges in the preferences that the heads of member countries mayhave. Once such gaps arise, closing them again becomes increasinglydifficult due to issues such as resistance from supranational actors,treaty-rooted institutional barriers, and ‘massive sunk costs`.Even though the governments of the EU member states, in theextensively integrated regions of the European polity are free tobreak away from the Union, the cost of exit has made this particularoption untenable. If one applies the same viewpoint to Ukraine, onewould realise that Ukraine`s exclusion from the European Union hasled to the country`s ‘uncompetitiveness` and backwardness since thecountry lacks the foreign investments, credits, and technology thatare accrued to member states for being members of the Union (Wolczuk5).
Transactionalismand neo-functionalism, coupled with Karl Deutsch and Ernst Haasdevelop a theoretical underpinning that is optimistic about theEuropean Union (Webber 8). Contemporaryneo-functionalists-cum-transactionalists contend that Europeanintegration is precipitated (more or less) by increasing levels oftransnational exchange that compels national governments to resort totransferring increased policy making capabilities to the EuropeanUnion level. Thus, as the levels of transnational exchange go up, thesocietal demand for an agency that can implement supranational rulesand organisational capabilities goes up. As a consequence, EU memberstates become more tightly locked into the Commission. In essence,institutionalisation brings the European countries so close that noteven a profound economic crisis can undermine the Europeanintegration process. However, EU member states remain resoluteactors, independent of the supranational organs of the EU. As such,member countries may not support the move to liberalise trade, socontinued political integration cannot be overlooked (9). Ukraine`sintention for moving toward the west can be attributed to its need todevelop both socially and economically (Bojcun 8). While the oldergeneration, in Ukraine, favours integration with the Russia-BelarusUnion (Wolczuk, 7). The younger populace and the better-educatedfavour European integration predominantly. For these individuals (theyoung and better educated) integration is more than a state-to-state,geopolitical, institutional process, but more of an opportunity forsocial mobility.
Ina recap of the above discussion, scholars have proposed that theEuropean Union should be more social (Micasso and Tosato 34). Thereason for this is to enhance social justice, economic efficiency,and command widespread support from the citizens of the EuropeanUnion. Partisan protectionism, for instance, can be viewed as thedriving force behind the distrust of politics (16). Making theEuropean Union more social alleviates the anxieties of voters sincethe citizenry perceives the Union as caring. The process ofintegration may be severely jeopardised and de-legitimised if socialgroups engage in fostering neo-protectionist demands and xenophobicsentiments simply because they are more affected by economic openingdirectly (34). Lastly, Ukraine can only join the European Union if itengages in the rapid development of its economic and democraticinfrastructure (Wolczuk 5).
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