The transformation of the nation-state: Why compare the EU and Canada?

This paper sheds some light on the peaceful and democratic transformation of the nation-state occurring in Europe. It offers a systematic comparison of the EU experience with that of Canada, a democracy variously referred to as a post-national entity, multinational federation, or confederation.

ARENA Working Paper 28/2002 (html)

John Erik Fossum

Is the European Union (EU) a unique and novel type of entity? This question has beset much of the intellectual and political debate on the EU since its early beginnings in the post-war period. Behind this question lingers a deeper one, namely that of systemic transformation. If the EU is a novel and unique type of entity then this may be an indication of a more profound systemic transformation, i.e. a change from a global system of nation-states to some other order. This question has sparked a large and increasingly interdisciplinary debate. Andrew Linklater notes that: “What has declined in recent years is the level of consensus about the adequacy of sovereign states and the principles of international relations which have prevailed during the Westphalian era.” This transformation has variously been referred to as the decline of the Westphalian Order, the emergence of the post-national constellation, the beginnings of a cosmopolitan order, and so forth. The interesting point about the EU is not only that it appears to challenge the nation-state based system. Equally important is that it raises a fundamental question: is democracy beyond the nation-state possible?

Tags: integration theory, federalism, international relations, democracy
Published Nov. 9, 2010 10:52 AM