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The change of tide in political cooperation: a limited information model of European integration

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  22 May 2009

Gerald Schneider
Program Director and Assistant Professor of Political Science at the Institute of Political Science, University of Bern, Switzerland.
Lars-Erik Cederman
A Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of Political Science at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.
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European integration follows a puzzling stop-and-go pattern that traditional international reations theories cannot fully explain. The predominating paradigms only account for either the achievements or the setbacks of the integration process. An information based explanation makes it possible to move beyond structural accounts provided by realist and functionalist scholarship. Such an approach yields solid micro-level foundations of international bargaining and focuses on leaders' use of threats in negotiations about regional cooperation. Situations involving governments agreeing on the necessity of further integration, but disagreeing about its level, create room for strategic manipulation of information asymmetries. This type of uncertainty stems from the manipulator's information and control advantages concerning domestic costs. The analysis of different summit meetings demonstrates the empirical relevance of such maneuvers for the dynamics of European integration.

Copyright © The IO Foundation 1994

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1. This article refers to the history of the EC. However, because the Treaty on European Union (Maastricht treaty) did not change the logic of the stop-and-go process, our analysis is also valid for its successor organization, the European Union (EU).

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