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Theorising the EU in crisis: de-Europeanisation as disintegration

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The current 'perfect storm' of European crises seems to provide evidence that the EU is suffering from severe tensions that could reverse many of the key integration gains of the past seven decades. The presence of apparently existential threats to the EU has provoked calls to theorise 'disintegration'. This presumes, first and foremost, that scholarship is lagging behind urgent real world developments. It could also be argued that any attempt to theorise integration should by definition be capable of theorising disintegration. EU studies scholarship has tended, in recent years, to shy away from the analysis of integration, developing instead a range of subliteratures that together presume institutional and systemic resilience. The paper makes three broad arguments. First, it notes that any return to the analysis of integration/disintegration presents a risk for scholarship, namely the fallacy of sampling from past experience to project future probabilities. Second, it demonstrates that earlier neofunctionalist scholarship had, in fact, developed quite sophisticated accounts of disintegration, which, in turn illustrated the importance of understanding the key role played by political economy and sociological dynamics in European integration. Finally, the paper explores the ways in which extant scholarly knowledge about the EU may inhibit the development of robust policy understanding of potentially disintegrative dynamics.
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Keywords: BREXIT; CRISIS; DISINTEGRATION; EUROPEAN UNION; NEOFUNCTIONALISM

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2019

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  • Global Discourse is an interdisciplinary, problem-oriented journal of applied contemporary thought operating at the intersection of politics, international relations, sociology and social policy. The Journal's scope is broad, encouraging interrogation of current affairs with regard to core questions of distributive justice, wellbeing, cultural diversity, autonomy, sovereignty, security and recognition. All issues are themed and aimed at addressing pressing issues as they emerge. Rejecting the notion that publication is the final stage in the research process, Global Discourse seeks to foster discussion and debate between often artificially isolated disciplines and paradigms, with responses to articles encouraged and conversations continued across issues.

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