European Integration Since the 1990s: Member States and the European Commission

This paper evaluates the balance of power between member states and the Commission and observes that the former contrary to expectations enhanced their relative influence during the 1990s. On the basis of this observation, the paper gives a critique of neo-institutionalism and the multi-level governance perspective, which failed to predict member-state tenacity in this defining period.

ARENA Working Paper 06/2004 (pdf)

Hussein Kassim and Anand Menon

The relationship between the member states and the Commission is at the heart of the EU's institutional structure and at the centre of debates about the European Union. In the 1990s, the new institutionalism and the multi-level governance approach emphasised the limitations of state power in EU decision making and stressed the ability of the supranational institutions, particularly the European Commission, to shape European integration. Contrary to their expectations that power would continue to shift from national government to the supranational bodies of the EU, integration since the 1990s has been marked instead by a strengthening of member state control and a decline in the status of the Commission. This paper charts these developments. It explains how the member states were able to reassert their authority, considers the fate of the Commission, and offers a critical examination of the weaknesses of the two theories. It also considers the significance of the Commission's decline for the future of the Union.

Tags: neo-institutionalism, multi-level governance, European Commission, public administration
Published Nov. 9, 2010 10:52 AM