Download Developments in West European Politics 2 by Paul M. Heywood, Erik Jones, Martin Rhodes PDF

By Paul M. Heywood, Erik Jones, Martin Rhodes

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Conflicts between the member states have proven problematic as well – and with ambiguous results. Such conflict was evident throughout the year 2000. During the Portuguese presidency, the conflict centred on the presence of the rightwing Freedom Party in the Austrian government. During the French presidency, it centred on the relative balance of power between smaller and larger member states. In both cases, the result was to slow down the process of decision-making within the European Council, to restrict the areas for negotiated compromise, and to defer tough decisions.

Virtually no-one considered the Nice summit more than a minimal success (Jones, 2001), and with the Irish veto of the Nice Treaty in June 2001, even that grudging concession was called into question. Conclusions The European Union is integrating, but it is unclear what that means. It is progressing, but it is unclear towards what. And it is developing, but it is unclear how. What is clear is that Western Europe faces a number of challenges for the future. Such challenges relate not only to the tension between institutional reform and enlargement, but also to the evolution of mechanisms and norms for the resolution of disputes between member states.

My argument is that such ambiguity is ubiquitous. None of the major policy developments in Europe over the five year period provides a clear indication of the direction of progress. Correspondingly, none provides a clear indictment of the European state system or of the nation-state. Rather, the process of European integration moves in different directions in different areas at different times and for different reasons. We cannot be sure what all this motion actually means; but we can recognize that this lack of certainty is an important feature in its own right.

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