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A Postfunctionalist Theory of European Integration: From Permissive Consensus to Constraining Dissensus


Preferences over jurisdictional architecture are the product of three irreducible logics: efficiency, distribution and identity. This article substantiates the following claims: (a) European integration has become politicized in elections and referendums; (b) as a result, the preferences of the general public and of national political parties have become decisive for jurisdictional outcomes; (c) identity is critical in shaping contestation on Europe.

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1 Imre Lakatos, ‘Falsification and the Methodology of Scientific Research Programmes’, in Imre Lakatos and Alan Musgrave, eds, Criticism and the Growth of Knowledge (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1970), pp. 91–195.

2 Gary Marks, Liesbet Hooghe and Kermit Blank, ‘European Integration since the 1980s: State-Centric versus Multi-Level Governance’, Journal of Common Market Studies, 34 (1996), 343–78.

3 The European Union is an extraordinarily incomplete contract. The greater the scope and depth of authority exercised by a regime, the more incomplete the contract on which it rests. An agreement on oil tanker safety can be specified quite precisely; an agreement to create a regime with broad-ranging authority over economic exchange is, of necessity, open-ended, and is therefore prone to subsequent debate.

4 To be more precise, reducing the debate to rational economic interest loses causally decisive information.

5 We define ‘governance’ as ‘binding decision making in the public sphere.

6 We focus on Europe, but we see no compelling reason why the pattern of causality we detect in Europe is not valid for other parts of the world.

7 See James A. Caporaso, Functionalism and Regional Integration: A Logical and Empirical Assessment (Beverly Hills, Calif.: Sage Professional Paper in the International Studies Series, 1972); Liesbet Hooghe and Gary Marks, ‘The Neofunctionalists Were (Almost) Right: Politicization and European Integration’, in Colin Crouch and Wolfgang Streeck, eds, The Diversity of Democracy: A Tribute to Philippe C. Schmitter (Cheltenham: Edgar Elgar: 2006), pp. 205–22; David Mitrany, A Working Peace System (Chicago: Quadrangle Books, 1966).

8 Ernst B. Haas, The Uniting of Europe (Palo Alto, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 1958). For assessments, see Tanja Börzel, ed., ‘Special Issue on Ernst Haas’ Legacy’, Journal of European Public Policy, 12 (2005), 215–349.

9 Leon N. Lindberg and Stuart A. Scheingold, eds, Regional Integration: Theory and Research (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1970); Philippe C. Schmitter, ‘Three Neofunctional Hypotheses About International Integration’, International Organization, 23 (1969), 161–6.

10 Stanley Hoffmann explained the malaise of European integration as the outcome of national rivalries pursued by forceful political leaders. Alan Milward argued that European integration ‘rescued’ the nation state by engineering a bargain where citizens accepted economic modernization in return for social welfare. Andrew Moravcsik conceptualized national states as carriers of economic, rather than geopolitical, interests; he combined a liberal theory of national government preference formation with an institutionalist theory of intergovernmental bargaining to explain EU treaties. See Stanley Hoffmann, ‘Obstinate or Obsolete? The Fate of the Nation-State and the Case of Western Europe’, Daedalus, 95 (1966), 862–914; Alan Milward, The European Rescue of the Nation-State (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1992); Andrew Moravcsik, The Choice for Europe: Social Purpose and State Power from Messina to Maastricht (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1998).

11 See Robert O. Keohane, ‘The Demand for International Regimes’, International Organization, 36 (1982), 325–55. The puzzle of international organization was motivated by a debate with realism, but its solution was especially fruitful for an understanding of Europe, which had gone further than any other region in creating supranational institutions.

12 John Peterson, ‘The Choice for EU Theorists: Establishing a Common Framework for Analysis’, European Journal of Political Research, 39 (2001), 289–318; Wayne Sandholtz and Alec Stone Sweet, eds, European Integration and Supranational Governance (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998).

13 Moravcsik, The Choice for Europe.

14 Gaullists (RPF) and Communists (PCF) opposed the Treaty; most republicans (MRP) supported it; socialists (SFIO) were split.

15 This political debate was framed by the Cold War and the German question – in short, by geopolitics. See Mette Eilstrup-Sangiovanni and Daniel Verdier, ‘European Integration as a Solution to War’, European Journal of International Relations, 11 (2005), 99–135.

16 This was, at first, disguised by contradictory trends: ‘The second half of the twentieth century witnessed, on the one hand, the “golden age” of the national-democratic-welfare state, and, on the other, the progressive opening up of a new phase of boundary redefinition in all functional spheres [i.e. economic, cultural, political, and coercive] that, by the latter quarter of the century, had become the dominant trend.’ (Stefano Bartolini, Restructuring Europe: Centre Formation, System Building, and Political Restructuring between the Nation-State and the European Union (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005), p. 116.)

17 Hanspeter Kriesi, Edgar Grande, Romain Lachat, Martin Dolezal, Simon Bornschier and Timotheos Frey, ‘Globalization and the Transformation of the National Political Space: Six European Countries Compared’, European Journal of Political Research, 45 (2006), 921–56.

18 Karen Alter, Establishing the Supremacy of European Law (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001); Alec Stone Sweet and Thomas Brunell, ‘Constructing a Supranational Constitution: Dispute Resolution and Governance in the European Community’, American Political Science Review, 92 (1998), 63–81.

19 Haas, The Uniting of Europe, p. 17.

20 Philippe Schmitter defined politicization as the increasing controversiality of joint decision making as more and more issues are drawn in, which in turn would determine the scope and level of political integration. ‘Politicization thus refers initially to a process whereby [a] the controversiality of joint decision making goes up. This in turn is likely to lead to [b] a widening of the audience or clientele interested and active in integration. Somewhere along the line [c] a manifest redefinition of mutual objectives will probably occur . . . It . . . involves some collective recognition that the original objectives have been attained . . . and that the new ones involving an upward shift in either scope or level of commitment are operative. Ultimately, one could hypothesize that . . . there will be [d] a shift in actor expectations and loyalty toward the new regional center’ (‘Three Neofunctional Hypotheses’, p. 166. Italics in original; alphabetization added).

21 Later, neofunctionalists relaxed this assumption. Haas had anticipated that once ‘the turbulence’ [his term] of public opinion and political parties would begin, the entire low profile strategy would become less viable’ (Philippe Schmitter, ‘Ernst B. Haas and the Legacy of Neofunctionalism’, Journal of European Public Policy, 12 (2005), pp. 255–72, at p. 268). However, Haas did not frame expectations about what would drive politicization in one direction or the other. Two decades later, his student did: Philippe C. Schmitter, ‘Examining the Present Euro-Polity with the Help of Past Theories’, in Gary Marks, Fritz Scharpf, Philippe Schmitter and Wolfgang Streeck, eds, Governance in the European Union (Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Sage, 1996), pp. 121–50.

22 Hoffmann predicted that some political leaders would turn nationalist as European integration deepened, but he did not expect public opinion to come into play. In conceiving and pursuing national interests, political leaders were insulated from the hurly-burly of domestic politics.

23 Karlheinz Reif and Hermann Schmitt, ‘Nine National Second-Order Elections: A Systematic Framework for the Analysis of European Election Results’, European Journal of Political Research, 8 (1980), 3–44.

24 Mark Franklin and Cees van der Eijk, ‘Potential for Contestation on European Matters at National Elections in Europe’, in Gary Marks and Marco Steenbergen, eds, European Integration and Political Conflict (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004), pp. 32–50.

25 Geoffrey Evans, ‘Europe: A New Electoral Cleavage?’ in Geoffrey Evans and Pippa Norris, eds, Critical Elections: British Parties and Voters in Long-term Perspective (London: Sage, 1999), pp. 207–22; Matthew Gabel, ‘European Integration, Voters and National Politics’, West European Politics, 23 (2000), 52–72; Catherine de Vries, ‘European Integration and National Elections: A Model of Issue Voting’ (doctoral dissertation, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, 2007).

26 Simon Hix, ‘Dimensions and Alignments in European Union Politics: Cognitive Constraints and Partisan Responses’, European Journal of Political Research, 35 (1999), 69–106; Gary Marks and Marco Steenbergen, eds, European Integration and Political Conflict: Citizens, Parties, Groups (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004); Paul Pennings, ‘The Dimensionality of the EU Policy Space’, European Union Politics, 3 (2002), 59–80.

27 Hanspeter Kriesi, ‘How National Political Parties Mobilize the Political Potentials Linked to European Integration’, European Union Politics, 8 (2007), 83–108. Analysing print media between 1990 and 2002 in France, the Netherlands, Germany, Britain, Switzerland, Italy and Spain, Ruud Koopmans and his team document a similar trend in the political claims reported in mass media. See Ruud Koopmans, ‘Analysis of Political Claims in European Print Media’, in Ruud Koopmans, Hanspeter Kriesi et al., The Transformation of Political Mobilization and Communication in European Public Spheres (Berlin: Europub, Integrated Report, 2004) (accessed on 1 December 2006, from 〈〉).

28 Doug Imig, ‘Contestation in the Streets: European Protest and The Emerging Europolity’, in Marks and Steenbergen, eds, European Integration and Political Conflict (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004), p. 232; Sidney Tarrow, The New Transnational Activism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005).

29 Kenneth Benoit and Michael Laver, Party Policy in Modern Democracies (London: Routledge, 2006), pp. 160 and 176.

30 Erica Edwards, ‘United We Stand? Explaining Intra-Party Dissent on European Integration’ (paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association, Philadelphia, 2006).

31 Liesbet Hooghe, ‘Europe Divided? Elites vs. Public Opinion on European Integration’, European Union Politics, 4 (2003), 281–305.

32 In the late 1960s to early 1970s, there was some interest in public opinion, but it was short lived (see Karl W. Deutsch, ‘Integration and Arms Control in the European Political Environment: A Summary Report’, American Political Science Review, 60 (1966), 354–65; Ronald Inglehart, ‘An End to European Integration?’, American Political Science Review, 61 (1967), 91–105; Donald J. Puchala, ‘The Common Market and Political Federation in Western European Public Opinion’, International Studies Quarterly, 14 (1970), 32–59). For an overview of the revival of public opinion studies in the 1980s and beyond, see Cees van der Eijk and Mark N. Franklin, eds, Choosing Europe? The European Electorate and National Politics in the Face of Union (Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press, 1996).

33 Richard Eichenberg and Russell Dalton, ‘Post-Maastricht Blues: The Transformation of Citizen Support for European Integration, 1973–2004’, Acta Politica, 8 (2007), 128–52; Matthew Gabel, Interests and Integration: Market Liberalization, Public Opinion, and European Union (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press 1998); Lauren McLaren, ‘Public Support for the European Union: Cost/Benefit Analysis or Perceived Cultural Threat?’ Journal of Politics, 64 (2002), 551–66.

34 Christopher J. Anderson, ‘When in Doubt, Use Proxies: Attitudes Toward Domestic Politics and Support for European Integration’, Comparative Political Studies, 31 (1998), 569–601; Claes de Vreese, ‘A Spiral of Euroskepticism: The Media’s Fault?’ Acta Politica, 8 (2007), 271–87; Kriesi, ‘How National Political Parties Mobilize’; Leonard Ray, ‘Don’t Rock the Boat: Expectations, Fears, and Opposition to EU Level Policy Making’, in Marks and Steenbergen, eds, European Integration and Political Conflict, pp. 51–61; Robert Rohrschneider, ‘The Democracy Deficit and Mass Support for an EU-wide Government’, American Journal of Political Science, 46 (2002), 463–75; Marco Steenbergen and Bradford S. Jones, ‘Modeling Multilevel Data Structures’, American Journal of Political Science, 46 (2002), 218–37; Kees van Kersbergen, ‘Political Allegiance and European Integration’, European Journal of Political Research, 37 (2000), 1–17.

35 Lauren McLaren, Identity, Interests, and Attitudes to European Integration (Basingstoke, Hants.: Palgrave, 2006); Liesbet Hooghe, JingJing Huo and Gary Marks, ‘Does Occupation Shape Attitudes on Europe? Benchmarking Validity and Parsimony’, Acta Politica, 42 (2007), 329–51. The fit between cultural and economic opposition appears tighter in Central and Eastern Europe than in the original fifteen, for reasons we explain below. See McLaren, Identity, Interests, and Attitudes, chap. 8; Joshua Tucker, Alexander Pacek and Adam Berinski, ‘Transitional Winners and Losers: Attitudes Towards EU Membership in Postcommunist Countries’, American Journal of Political Science, 46 (2002), 557–71; and Milada Anna Vachudova and Liesbet Hooghe, ‘Postcommunist Politics in a Magnetic Field: How Transition and EU Accession Structure Party Competition on European Integration’, Comparative European Politics, 1 (2008).

36 Sean Carey, ‘Undivided Loyalties: Is National Identity an Obstacle to European Integration?’ European Union Politics, 3 (2002), 387–413; Juan Diez Medrano and Paula Guttiérez, ‘Nested Identities: National and European Identity in Spain’, Ethnic and Racial Studies, 24 (2001), 753–78; Richard Herrmann, Thomas Risse and Marilynn Brewer, eds, Transnational Identities: Becoming European in the EU (Lanham, Md.: Rowman and Littlefield, 2004); McLaren, Identity, Interests and Attitudes. European identity was an important ingredient in the neofunctionalist research programme, but it was primarily conceived as a dependent, not independent, variable.

37 Jack Citrin and John Sides, ‘European Immigration in the People’s Court: Economic Need or Cultural Threat?’ in Craig Parsons and Timothy Smeeding, eds, Immigration and the Transformation of Europe (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006), pp. 327–61.

38 ‘[A]ny relationship between ingroup identification and outgroup hostility is progressive and contingent rather than necessary and inevitable’ (Marilynn Brewer, ‘The Psychology of Prejudice: Ingroup Love or Outgroup Hate?’ Journal of Social Issues, 55 (1999), 429–44).

39 Neil Fligstein, Euroclash: The EU, European Identity, and the Future of Europe (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008).

40 Tanja Börzel, ‘Mind the Gap! European Integration Between Level and Scope’, Journal of European Public Policy, 12 (2005), 217–36.

41 James N. Druckman, ‘Political Preference Formation: Competition, Deliberation, and the (Ir)relevance of Framing Effects’, American Political Science Review, 98 (2004), 671–86; James N. Druckman and Kjersten R. Nelson, ‘Framing and Deliberation: How Citizens’ Conversations Limit Elite Influence’, American Journal of Political Science, 47 (2003), 729–45; Joanne M. Miller and Jon A. Krosnick, ‘News Media Impact on the Ingredients of Presidential Evaluations: Politically Knowledgeable Citizens are Guided by a Trusted Source’, American Journal of Political Science, 44 (2000), 301–15.

42 Catherine de Vries and Erica Edwards, ‘Taking Europe to its Extremes: Extremist Parties and Public Euroskepticism’, Party Politics, 15 (2009); Hooghe, Marks and Huo, ‘Does Occupation Shape Attitudes on Europe?’

43 McLaren finds that economic rationality structures the attitudes of economic winners (who tend to be mobile, educated, relatively wealthy, cosmopolitans) more strongly than the attitudes of economic losers (see McLaren, Identity, Interests, and Attitudes, pp. 190–1).

44 Thomas Risse, ‘Neofunctionalism, European Identity and the Puzzles of European Integration’, Journal of European Public Policy, 13 (2006), 291–309, p. 305.

45 Brent F. Nelsen, James Guth and Cleveland R. Fraser, ‘Does Religion Matter? Christianity and Public Support for the European Union’, European Union Politics, 6 (2001), 89–112; Antonia Ruiz Jimenez, Jaroslaw Jozef Gorniak, Ankica Kosic, Paszkal Kiss and Maren Kandulla, ‘European and National Identities in EU’s Old and New Member States: Ethnic, Civic, Instrumental and Symbolic Components’, European Integration Online Papers, 8 (2004), 23pp. + 12pp.; Michael Bruter, ‘Winning Hearts and Minds for Europe: The Impact of News and Symbols on Civic and Cultural European Identity’, Comparative Political Studies, 12 (2003), 1148–79; Adam Brinegar and Seth Jolly, ‘Location, Location, Location: National Contextual Factors and Public Support for European Integration’, European Union Politics, 6 (2005), 155–80; Vachudova and Hooghe, ‘Postcommunist Politics in a Magnetic Field’.

46 Fligstein, ‘Who are the Europeans?’ For a detailed analysis of the national character of European making of claims in the media, see Barbara Pfetsch, Silke Adam, Barbara Berkel and Juan Diez Medrano, The Voice of the Media in the European Public Sphere: Comparative Analysis of Newspaper Editorials (Berlin: Europub, Integrated Report WP 3, 2004) (available on 〈〉, accessed on 2 December 2006).

47 Liesbet Hooghe and Gary Marks, ‘The Making of a Polity: The Struggle over European Integration’, in Herbert Kitschelt, Peter Lange, Gary Marks and John Stephens, Continuity and Change in Contemporary Capitalism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999), pp. 70–97; George Tsebelis and Geoffrey Garrett, ‘Legislative Politics in the European Union’, European Union Politics, 1 (2000), 9–36.

48 On voting in the European Parliament, see Simon Hix, Abdul Noury and Roland Gerard, Democracy in the European Parliament (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006); Amie Kreppel, The European Parliament and the Supranational Party System: A Study of Institutional Development (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002); and Jacques Thomassen, Abdul Noury and Erik Voeten, ‘Political Competition in the European Parliament: Evidence from Roll Call and Survey Analyses’, in Marks and Steenbergen, eds, European Integration and Political Conflict, pp. 141–64. On partisanship in the Council of Ministers, see Mark Aspinwall, ‘Preferring Europe: Ideology and National Preferences on European Integration’, European Union Politics, 3 (2002), 81–111; Mikko Mattila, ‘Contested Decisions. Empirical Analysis of Voting in the EU Council of Ministers’, European Journal of Political Research, 43 (2004), 29–50. On the Commission, see Liesbet Hooghe, ‘Euro-Socialists or Euro-Marketeers? Contention about European Capitalism among Senior Commission Officials’, Journal of Politics, 62 (2002), 430–54. On policy making, see Gerda Falkner, EU Social Policy in the 1990s: Towards a Corporatist Policy Community (New York: Routledge, 1998); Philip Manow, Armin Schafer and Hendrik Zorn, ‘European Social Policy and Europe’s Party-Political Center of Gravity, 1957–2003’, Journal of European Public Policy, 15 (2008), 20–39; and Mark Pollack, ‘Blairism in Brussels: The Third Way in Europe Since Amsterdam’, in Maria Cowles and Michael Smith, eds, The State of the European Union: Risks, Reform, Resistance, and Revival (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000), pp. 266–91. On treaty making and EU fora, see Ben Crum, ‘Politics and Power in the Convention’, Politics, 24 (2004), 1–11; Mark Pollack, ‘A Blairite Treaty: Neoliberalism and Regulated Capitalism in the Treaty of Amsterdam’, in Karl-Heinz Neunreither and Antje Wiener, eds, European Integration After Amsterdam: Institutional Dynamics and Prospects for Democracy (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999), pp. 266–89. For an overview, see Matthew Gabel, Simon Hix and Gerald Schneider, ‘Making the Whole Greater Than the Sum of Its Parts: Improving Data on EU Politics’, European Union Politics, 3 (2002), 481–500.

49 Trust among citizens in the original fifteen is considerably greater than trust in the enlarged EU-25. See Jacques Thomassen, ‘European Citizenship and Identity’ in Michael Marsh, Slava Mikhaylov and Hermann Schmitt, eds, European Elections after Eastern Enlargement (Mannheim: Connex Report Series No. 1, 2007), chap. 15.

50 The stronger a community, the more it engenders a shared sense of fate and a willingness to make sacrifices for the collective welfare. One finds the highest levels of redistribution – reaching peaks of around a third of gross domestic product – in Scandinavia and in other small, relatively homogeneous, societies (Lane Kenworthy and Jonas Pontusson, ‘Rising Inequality and the Politics of Redistribution in Affluent Countries’, Perspectives on Politics, 3 (2005), 449–71). More heterogeneous communities appear to have a lower redistributive ceiling. Regimes that have engaged in major redistribution among very heterogeneous groups (e.g., the Mongol empire, Western colonial empires, the Soviet Union) have done so non-consensually.

51 Pollack, ‘A Blairite Treaty’. The Amsterdam Treaty led to the Lisbon process (2000) with the goal of co-ordinating policies to combat poverty, raise employment rates, modernize education and training systems, and reform pensions. Mary Daly, ‘EU Social Policy after Lisbon’, Journal of Common Market Studies, 44 (2006), 461–81, provides an evaluation. Several scholars argue that EU membership constrains domestic policy making (see Peter Mair, ‘Political Opposition and the European Union’, Government and Opposition, 42 (2007), 1–17; Han Dorussen and Kyriaki Nanou, ‘European Integration, Intergovernmental Bargaining, and Convergence of Party Programmes’, European Union Politics, 7 (2006), 235–56). Fritz Scharpf has argued that EU decision making is particularly constraining in policy areas where EU decisions are precluded by the heterogeneity of national preferences and interests while national solutions are impeded by the legal and economic constraints of EU membership. Examples of such policies are the taxation of mobile capital and business, macro-economic employment policy, industrial relations and social policy (‘The Joint Decision Trap Revisited’, Journal of Common Market Studies, 44 (2006), 845–64). For an attempt to disentangle the constraining effects of globalization and European integration on domestic politics, see Daniel Verdier and Richard Breen, ‘Europeanization and Globalization: Politics against Markets in the European Union’, Comparative Political Studies, 34 (2001), 227–62.

52 The orthogonality view is cogently formulated by Simon Hix, ‘The Study of the European Community: The Challenge to Comparative Politics’, West European Politics, 17 (2004), 1–30. The subsumption argument was made by Hooghe and Marks, ‘Making of a Polity’, and Tsebelis and Garrett, ‘Legislative Politics’.

53 Marco Steenbergen, who co-authored the survey, had suggested an item measured with wording approximating Herbert Kitschelt’s libertarian/authoritarian dichotomy (see Herbert Kitschelt, The Transformation of European Social Democracy (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994)).

54 Liesbet Hooghe, Gary Marks and Carole Wilson, ‘Does Left/Right Structure Party Positions on European Integration?’ Comparative Political Studies, 35 (2002), 965–89; Gary Marks, Liesbet Hooghe, Moira Nelson and Erica Edwards, ‘Party Competition and European Integration in East and West: Different Structure, Same Causality’, Comparative Political Studies, 39 (2006), 155–75.

55 Leonard Ray, ‘Measuring Party Orientation Towards European Integration: Results from an Expert Survey’, European Journal of Political Research, 36 (1999), 283–306.

56 Hooghe, Marks and Wilson, ‘Does Left/Right Structure Party Positions on European Integration?’

57 It has been argued that the French ‘No’ vote was primarily a vote against a neoliberal Europe, but detailed analysis of post-election polls suggests a prominent role for tan concerns. Among left ‘No’ voters, social concerns were only slightly more important than nationalist threats, while on the political right ‘the social threat was marginal in its influence; this was not the case for the nationalistic threat’ (see Sylvain Brouard and Vincent Tiberj, ‘The French Referendum: The Not So Simple Act of Saying Nay’, PS: Politics and Political Science, 39 (2006), 261–8).

58 David Lowery, ‘Why Do Organized Interests Lobby? A Multi-Goal, Multi-Context Theory of Lobbying’, Polity, 39 (2007), 29–54, p. 37. See also Elizabeth Gerber, The Populist Paradox: Interest Group Influence and the Promise of Direct Legislation (Princeton,N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1999); and Ken Kollman, Outside Lobbying (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1998).

59 George Ross, Jacques Delors and European Integration (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995); Volker Bornschier, ed., State-Building in Europe: The Revitalization of Western European Integration (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000); Simon Hix and Christopher Lord, Political Parties in the European Union (New York: St Martin’s, 1997); Hooghe and Marks, ‘Making of a Polity’; Karl Magnus Johansson, ‘Party Elites in Multilevel Europe: The Christian Democrats and the Single European Act’, Party Politics, 8 (2002), 423–39; Robert Ladrech, ‘Social Democratic Parties and EC Integration: Transnational Responses to Europe 1992’, European Journal of Political Research, 24 (1997), 195–210; Gary Marks and Carole Wilson, ‘The Past in the Present: A Cleavage Theory of Party Positions on European Integration’, British Journal of Political Science, 30 (2000), 433–59; Wayne Sandholtz and John Zysman, ‘1992: Recasting the European Bargain’, World Politics, 42 (1989), 95–128.

60 David Baker, Andrew Gamble, Steve Ludlam and David Seawright, ‘Conservative Splits and European Integration’, Political Quarterly, 64 (1993), 420–35; Geoffrey Evans, ‘Euroscepticism and Conservative Electoral Support: How An Asset Became a Liability’, British Journal of Politics and International Relations, 28 (1998), 573–90; Paul Hainsworth, Carolyn O’Brien and Paul Mitchell, ‘The Politics of Euroscepticism on the French Right’, in Robert Harmsen and Menno Spiering, eds, Euroscepticism: Party Politics, National Identity and European Integration(Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2004), pp. 37–58; Stephen George, The Intellectual Debate in Britain on the European Union (Paris: Notre Europe, Research and Policy Paper No. 5, 1998); Ian McAllister and Donlay Studlar, ‘Conservative Euroskepticism and the Referendum Party in the 1997 British General Election’, Party Politics, 6 (2000), 359–71.

61 Referendums shift the initiative to citizens and single-issue groups, and disarm party elites. Several Dutch political leaders opposed holding a referendum in the Netherlands, but once the decision had been made, they came around to arguing that it was good to hear from the people. The French éminence grise (and president of the Constitutional Convention) Valérie Giscard d’Estaing argued against a referendum in France, but changed his mind once the referendum campaign was under way – as did President Jacques Chirac. In Britain, the referendum is a standing challenge to the principle of parliamentary sovereignty, but there was little opposition to the notion that parliamentary consent would be inadequate to bring the United Kingdom into economic and monetary union or into a European constitution. Referendums are propitious for identity politics because they reduce the role of political parties. Voting in national elections is often cued by party loyalty and other considerations that affect a citizen’s choice of government, whereas referendums put issues directly before the citizen. Moreover, referendums on European issues have been more concerned with grand architectural decisions (accession, introduction of the euro, the Constitutional Treaty) than with tangible communal implications. From January 1990 to January 2007, referendums on Europe were held in nine of the fifteen states in the pre-accession European Union, and two more (Portugal and the United Kingdom) had planned referendums on the Constitutional Treaty but postponed or suspended them after the negative French and Dutch referendums. In this seventeen-year period, seventeen referendums took place, not counting nine in the Eastern enlargement countries. The only EU countries never to have held a referendum on an EU issue are Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Germany, Greece, Portugal and Romania. Up to 1990, in only one of the EU-15 countries (Britain) were more referendums staged on EU issues than on non-EU issues; since 1990, nine countries have used the referendum instrument, and in eight of those EU votes outnumbered non-EU votes. The first (and, up to this point in time, only) national referendums in the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Finland have taken place on EU issues. For an analysis of EU referendums, see Simon Hug, Voices of Europe: Citizens, Referendums, European Integration (Lanham, Md.: Rowman and Littlefield, 2002). For assessments of the extent to which political parties control referendum outcomes, see Sarah Binzer Hobolt, ‘How Parties Affect Vote Choice in European Integration Referendums’, Party Politics, 12 (2006), 623–47; Claes de Vreese, ‘Political Parties in Dire Straits? Consequences of National Referendums for Political Parties’, Party Politics, 12 (2006), 581–98; Lawrence Leduc, ‘Opinion Change and Voting Behaviour in Referendums’; European Journal of Political Research, 41 (2002), 711–32.

62 For example, the neoliberal turn among predominantly centre-right and conservative parties facilitated agreement on a distributionally contentious single-market programme, and socialist predominance at the Amsterdam intergovernmental conference focused the agenda on social issues, while keeping neoliberal proposals off the agenda (e.g. for an independent competition agency and for shifting responsibility for international negotiation of trade in services to the Commission).

63 The public is far less amenable to broadening or deepening integration than supporting their country’s membership (Norway and Switzerland are the exceptions).

64 Gary Marks, ‘A Third Lens: Comparing European Integration and State Building’, in Jytte Klausen and Louise A. Tilly, eds, European Integration in Social and Historical Perspective: 1850 to the Present (New York: Rowman & Littlefield, 1997), pp. 23–50.

65 With respect to geopolitics, we suspect that the standard defence – ‘we ignore this for simplicity’ – leads in precisely the wrong direction. When inter-state rivalries rear their head, they are a far more powerful influence on elite decision making than economic interdependence. A decisive condition for European integration appears to be the absence of inter-state rivalries that typically characterized European geopolitics. Economic influences were powerful because geopolitics allowed this to happen. In this respect, the postfunctionalist theory offered here can claim to be least bad. While liberal intergovernmentalism and neofunctionalism neglect the heavy conflicts that determine decision making in domestic arenas, as well as the heavy conflicts that determine international relations, postfunctionalist theory ignores only the latter.

* Department of Political Science, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and the Free University of Amsterdam (email: and ). Earlier drafts of this article were presented at the Free University of Amsterdam, the Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association, Washington, D.C., 2005, the Steiner discussion group at the University of North Carolina, the University of Antwerp, Bremen University, the University of Edinburgh, Leiden University, the Max Planck Institut in Köln, New York University, Pompeu Fabra University, Sciences Po in Paris, Trinity College Dublin, the University of Washington, and the University of Zurich. The authors are grateful for comments by participants at these seminars and would especially like to thank Tim Büthe, James Caporaso, Ben Crum, Amitai Etzioni, Lawrence Ezrow, Nicolas Jabko, Karl Kaltenhaler, Hanspeter Kriesi, Ivan Llamazares, Catherine de Vries, Andreas Nölke, Henk Overbeek, Arjan Schakel, Philippe Schmitter, Jacques Thomassen, Milada Vachudova and participants of the Steiner seminar. The authors are responsible for any remaining errors and inconsistencies. [Comments on this article by Philippe Schmitter, by Tanja A. Börzel and Thomas Risse, and by Hanspeter Kriesi are being published by Cambridge University Press in 2008 online at doi: 10.1017/S0007123408000483, doi: 10.1017/S000712340800046X and doi: 10.1017/S0007123408000471 respectively, and in British Journal of Political Science, 39 (2009). Ed.]

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