European integration, as a regional variant of globalization, has produced
much more dramatic change for members of the European Union than globalization
has for other advanced industrialized nations, both in terms of the economy
and the polity. This has in turn generated much greater challenges for
EU countries with regard to national democratic governance and legitimacy
than for countries affected by globalization alone. Such challenges involve
not just such questions as how to adjust national economies or to adapt
national institutions to EU exigencies but also how to legitimate such
changes to the citizenry in terms of traditional conceptions of economic
order and social justice as well as political representation and participation.
In order to illustrate this, this paper considers the differential impact
of the EU on three European countries, France, Britain, and Germany.
Paper prepared for presentation at the annual meetings of the Society
for the Advancement of Socio-Economics (Amsterdam, June 28-30).
European Integration as Regional Variant of Globalization: The Challenges
to National Democracy
Globalization has often
been characterized as generating tremendous change for the nation-state,
both economically and institutionally.1 On this score, European integration,
as a regional variant of globalization, has produced much more dramatic
change for members of the European Union than globalization has for any
advanced industrialized nations, including EU member-states. This is not
only because the EU has created a liberalized regional economic zone that
rivals any other globalized regional or national economies but also because
the development of the European Union as a supranational set of institutions
far outdistances any found at the global level. With the economic liberalization
attendant upon European integration, EU member-states’ governments have
given up much more national autonomy in decision-making than countries
subject only to the forces of globalization. In exchange, however, they
have also gained a kind of shared supranational authority that goes way
beyond anything experienced by countries subject to globalization alone.
As a regional variant of globalization, therefore, the experience of the
EU can tell us much about the potential benefits as well as problems for
advanced industrialized democracies worldwide if and when global institutions
reach the level of maturity of EU ones.
The benefits of EU membership, to begin with, have been significant. Unlike
the very partial and uneven coverage of global treaties and treaty-related
organizations, EU member-states benefit from commonly agreed-upon policies
in a wide range of spheres, from common monetary policies and a common
currency (for 12 out of 15 members) to common industrial standards, regulatory
policies, and regulatory authorities. As such, the European Union has
succeeded in serving not only as a conduit for global economic forces,
by opening up member-states to competition in the capital and product
markets, but also as a shield against them, through common macroeconomic
and microeconomic policies that improve European member-states’ competitiveness
through the discipline of monetary integration and the economies of scale
afforded by the Single European Market—to say nothing of the protections
afforded by common agricultural policies, external trade policies, a strong
anti-trust authority, and so on.
In consequence, one could argue that the EU has gone farthest in the direction
hoped for by many globalization critics, through the creation of a supranational
governance organization that not only seeks to dismantle existing structures
in favor of the new but at the same time makes new rules to ensure that
those new structures work appropriately—by protecting the norms and standards
societies have come to value most as they open up new economic opportunities
through liberalization. And in fact, these new rules and structures have
provided EU member-states with tremendous benefits not only from larger
European financial markets, more intra-European trade, and greater European
economic stability but also from higher general European standards and
better protections for all citizens of the EU, to say nothing here of
the gains from the beginnings of a European political entity and a collective
European identity. However, these new rules and structures also come at
a cost: risks to traditional governance patterns and conceptions of democracy.
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full paper here.
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event about 'Re-Inventing
Democracies for the Future'