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date: 25 February 2021

(p. xxvii) Preface

(p. xxvii) Preface

For more than half a century, the process of European integration has redrawn the map of Europe, both literally and figuratively. Credited by its supporters with helping entrench peace and prosperity, attacked by its enemies for undermining nation states that represent the cornerstone of political legitimacy, the EU continues to spark controversy and to defy easy understanding or explanation.

The institutions spawned by this process are both familiar and unusual at the same time. They combine elements recognizable from the politics that takes place within states with others that reflect more the politics between states. What is true in form is also true in function. European institutions share competence with their national counterparts in some areas and claim exclusive competence in others. Moreover, virtually every aspect of public policy falls somewhere within their remit.

The combination of unfamiliarity and ubiquity has provoked successive waves of scholarly interest. The 1960s and 1990s stand out as particularly intense moments of dynamism and scrutiny; the 1970s and early 2000s show some tapering off. Across these ebbs and flows of popularity, the literature has continued to deepen and expand. The number of academic journals devoted to the study of European integration is one indicator; the inclusion of articles on European integration in the most prominent disciplinary journals is another.

The objective of The Oxford Handbook on the European Union is to provide a survey of this rich field of scholarly endeavor. As a collection, The Oxford Handbook provides a comprehensive resource, bringing together acknowledged authorities in the area of EU Studies to provide original and up-to-date analyses of the study of the Union. Our intention as editors has been not only to address key perennial debates in the field, but also to cast light on issues that are often overlooked. We also aim to bring together a wide range of perspectives. Hence the individual chapters offer insights from economics, history, international relations, law, political science, and sociology.

(p. xxviii) The volume begins with the theoretical perspectives that have dominated academic debates about European integration. Examining, in turn, Realist, neo-functionalist, constructivist, sociological, and multilevel governance perspectives, the authors in Part I consider not only where controversy lay in the past, but also the potential of the various approaches to contribute to our understanding of the EU in years to come.

Part II considers the succession of treaties that have provided the building blocks for the European integration process. Many of these treaties are notable for their success; others are more significant for their failure. Therefore, this part covers not only the progression from Rome to Lisbon, but also early attempts to create an EDC and later attempts to ratify a Constitutional Treaty.

The workings of any political system are, of course, only partially determined by the formal rules put in place to govern its operation. Part III moves away from formal structures to look at the role of particular individuals in shaping the process of European integration. Again, we focus not only on those personalities who played a major role in the construction of the communities, but also consider the record, and determinants of the performance, of others who have long being considered as “non-performers.”

Part IV shifts the focus from individuals to states. Rather than adopting a typical approach of examining individual countries and their attitudes toward European integration, we asked contributors to examine various groupings of states and to consider their role in either shaping or retarding the integration process. The intention here is to get a sense of how and why domestic politics and international relations have interacted to shape so many of the debates about the development of the EU.

The following section (Part V) goes on to look at the institutions of the Union, considering both their development over time and their contemporary workings. Here we have included both the “core” EU institutions whose study has been central to the intellectual interests of the sub-field, and those other institutions that are the subject of far less scholarly debate, including the Court of Auditors, the European Ombudsman, and the EU agencies.

Part VI moves us from what the EU is and how it works to what it does. Its focus is on economic policies—perhaps the core activities of the Union. Successive chapters examine the single market, external commercial policies, competition policy, EMU, the Lisbon Agenda, the CAP, and Structural and Regional Funds. Part VII, meanwhile, considers other areas of activity such as environmental policy, consumer and energy policy. Finally, in terms of policy areas, Part VIII deals with foreign policy and home affairs, looking at the EU's role in dealing with borders, migration, and security.

The penultimate section (Part IX) broadens our perspective again, looking at some of the key debates that have surrounded the development of the Union. Issues relating to the so-called democratic deficit, the presence, or absence, of a European identity, the nature and impact of public opinion, and the nature of the EU—whether a traditional international organization or a state in the making or something different again—have shaped both political and academic debates for many years.

Finally, no volume such as this would be complete without consideration of the relationship between the Union and its constituent member states (Part X). The ability of (p. xxix) member states to coordinate their policies when dealing with the Union, debates between them as to what constitutes legitimate burden-sharing, and the impact of the Union on policies and politics within the member states are fundamental issues not only in the academic study of the EU but also loom increasingly large in public and political debates concerning its future. The conventional slogan “European integration” itself deserves deconstruction: what is being “integrated,” what is left unaligned? The EU has no agreed end station.

This Oxford Handbook was several years in gestation. It goes without saying, therefore, that we would like to thank our editor at Oxford University Press, Dominic Byatt, and his colleagues for their hard work and dedication. Thanks go to our home institutions—the SAIS Bologna Center, the University of Birmingham, and Somerville College and the Law Faculty at Oxford—for the support and confidence that goes alongside a regular paycheck. Thanks go to Valeria Calderoni, who played a vital role in bringing the project to a close. Most important, this volume would not have been possible without the commitment and professionalism of our contributors. Although we believe that the collection is greater than the sum of its parts, we also recognize that it was built on a foundation of individual effort.

Erik Jones Anand Menon Stephen Weatherill

Bologna, Italy Oxford, UK Oxford, UK

August, 2011 (p. xxx)