Balancing Effectiveness and Legitimacy in European Integration: The Norwegian and the Swiss Case

This paper couples the concept of Europeanization with institutional theory, applying it on the two non-member states Switzerland and Norway. It is revealed that domestic institutional logics rather than formal membership is conducive to processes of adaptation.

ARENA Working Paper 31/1997 (html)

Ulf Sverdrup and Stephan Kux

At present, many European nation states experience difficulties in balancing the relationship between institutional effectiveness and legitimacy. One factor challenging the traditional balance within the nation state is the process of regional integration in the framework of the EU. Most European nation states currently strive to adjust to deepening economic and political integration. At the same time they undertake extensive adaptations to the EU, they experience an increasing popular resistance against the pace, style and content of European co-operation. Much of the current debate is therefore related to how to develop effective and democratic problem-solving institutions at the European level, and at the same time further develop democracy and autonomous problem-solving capacity at the national level. The concept of Europeanization is used to describe these processes of adaptation, entailing a shifting relationship between, and within, different levels of government. This article seeks to contribute to the debate on Europeanization by highlighting one important aspect; the significance of institutional boundaries and the importance of formal membership for institutional adaptation and change. Our empirical focus is on how Norway and Switzerland, two small West European states that are not members of the EU, are affected by European integration, and how these countries have adapted their domestic institutions and policies in order to cope with the challenges they are facing. Investigating these two cases leads us to conclude that we should rethink the concept of membership. These two non-member states are in some fields and areas adapting at a speed and range that is almost similar to that of the member states. Furthermore, processes of adaptation seem to be driven largely by internal and institutional dynamics, and they are not solely dependent upon formal organization or degree of integration.

Tags: Switzerland, administrative adaptation, EEA-agreement, Norway, institutions
Published Nov. 9, 2010 10:52 AM