An Institutionalist Perspective of European Integration: Evaluating European integration using the development of British agriculture under the Common Agricultural Policy

AuthorAdam Turner
S.S.L.R. An In stitution alist Perspect ive of European Integrat ion
An Institutionalist Perspective of European
Integration: Evaluating European integration using
the developm ent of British agriculture under the
Common Agricultural Policy
Adam Tu rner
Ever sin ce th e inception of the European Coal an d Steel Commun ity, and
through its subsequent guise as the Eur opean Commu nity and in to its present
form as the Eu ropean Union , acad em ics have been attem pting to explain how
European in tegr ation occurs and is sustained, and what th e roles of the
Mem ber States and t he supranational EU institutions ar e in the process. Th e
two competing theories that have been favoured at different times throughout
the existen ce of th e EU have been neo-fu n ction alism and
intergovernmentalism. This st udy uses the development of Common
Agricultural Policy (CAP) of the European Union, the most ambitious area of
econ omic integration in Eu rope, to argue how a different theory of European
integration, based on fun dam ental pr in ciples of hist orical institutionalism,
can provide a far more accurate exp lanation of how European integration has
occurred in the past. This study contends that reform , as the m ost
fundamental stage of the integrative process, is the best barometer against
which to ju dge the com p et in g theories of in tegrat ion. My ar gumen t will use
the app arent failure of European integr ation to develop the British
agricultural sector as quickly as it has developed the correspondin g sectors in
the other Member Stat es to illustrate the accuracy of the integrative theory
that I suppor t. I believe this can be explain ed by the British govern m ent ’s
attitude towards its own farm er s in the implem entation of the most recent
substan tial refor m of the CAP, the Mid-Term Review. It is argued th at the
futur e direction of the CAP, which can be gauged fr om th e recen t proposals for
the policy’s reform, can validate the theory that my study seeks to supp or t. I
contend t hat th e proposals p rovide evidence of t he CAP moving away from the
interests of British far m ers, which is a gap that the principles of historical
institu tion alism on which I rely suggest will only continu e to widen in the
Sou tha mpton Stud ent Law Review
he Comm on Agricultural Policy (CAP) of th e European Union (EU) is
the m ost ambitious ar ea of Eur opean integration . Th e policy
represented 47% of the total expenditure of the EU in 2008, which
equ ates to just over € 55 billion 1. The scale and ambit ion of th e policy is
reflect ed in wha t it aims to achieve, which is the su ccessful integration of every
agricultur al sector within th e EU. How European integration occur s has been
the subject of int en se academic debate. The two tr aditionally com peting views
have been those of the state-cen tric ‘intergovern m en talists’ and the ‘neo-
functionalists’, who prefer to perceive th e EU as an autonomous supran ation al
bod y. However, m y proposal is that a sep arate theory of Eur opean in tegration ,
based on th e principles of historical institu tionalism, provides a more accura te
explan ation of the integrative process, and the scale of the CAP makes it the
best tool to us e with which t o prove this assert ion.
The com peting theories that will be an alysed all place considerable emph asis
on the role of the Member State in the process of European in tegration an d
also con sider how Eu ropean integration could affect th e Mem ber State on a
national level. I in tend to evalu ate th e r ole of the Member State in a
part icu larly importan t aspect of the integration pr ocess, which is r eform.
Therefore, in terms of th e CAP I will use the case study of British agr icu lture
and consid er how it has been affected by th e most recen t reform of the CAP,
and the role of the British gover nmen t in implemen ting the reforms, in ord er
to prove that a theory of int egration founded on principles of historical
institu tion alism is accu rat e. This will then allow me to identify how British
agr icultu re cou ld receive increased ben efits from European integration .
At th is part icu lar m oment in t im e we ar e fortunat e that we can also use th e
futur e of the CAP as a lens th rough which we can evaluate the existin g theories
of European in tegr ation. This is becau se the European Com m ission has
recently released proposals as to the reforms of the CAP due to take effect
from 2014. I will assess these proposals and the react ion of Brit ish farmers to
them , and establish wheth er the th eory of integration I supp ort can explain
this reaction mor e adequately th an intergovernmentalism and neo-
fun ction alism can. This will allow m e to evaluate what the European
integration of the agricult ural sector will m ean for British farmers looking
beyond the proposed reforms accord ing to historical instit utionalist reason ing,
and wha t the con sequen ces will be for th e British agricultur al sector if it leaves
th e CAP.
1 Nati onal Aud it Office , ‘Fina ncial M anag emen t in t he Eu rop ean U nion ’ (20 10) (HC 20 10-11)
34 , at p.12.

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