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Theories of European Integration in Searching for Explanation of Disintegration
Analysis and Forecasting. IMEMO Journal

Theories of European Integration in Searching for Explanation of Disintegration

DOI: 10.20542/afij-2022-3-37-44
© Daria E. MOISEEVA, 2022
Received 12.08.2022.
Revised 30.09.2022.
Accepted 20.10.2022.
Daria E. MOISEEVA (, ORCID ID: 0000-0003-1575-4019,
Primakov National Research Institute of World Economy and International Relations, Russian Academy of Sciences (IMEMO), 23, Profsoyuznaya Str., Moscow 117997, Russian Federation.
In this article, four classical theories of European integration (realism, neofunctionalism, federalism and liberal intergovernmentalism) are revised in order to figure out their understanding of disintegration, its causes and possible outcomes. Up until recently, disintegration has been of little concern to European studies. Nonetheless, each of the theories is capable of contributing to explaining the disintegration process, all together they give a proper theoretical starting point for further conceptualization of the phenomenon. The article makes it evident that different theories have their own visions of reasons for creating supranational regimes, just like they view possible causes of these regimes’ downfall and transformation. Structural realism is finding the reasons for both integration and disintegration in the concepts of security, balance of power and outer threats. Federalism, on the contrary, focuses on internal political dynamics between member states and emphasizes common interests and values, ideology, economic inequality, cultural and linguistic homogeneity. Federalism explains possible EU disintegration through EU malfunctioning as a political system.  Both aforementioned theories are limited by being state-centered, which cannot be said about neofunctionalism. Neofunctionalists imagine disintegration as a multi-level and multi-directional process that does not necessarily mean coming back to full national sovereignty. Finally, liberal intergovernmentalist approach views disintegration as a redistribution of power that cannot make a return to status quo ante. Each theory can provide us with its own insight on disintegration but can’t provide an overwhelming explanation. Nevertheless, further theorizing with classical theories as a starting point is yet to be done.

For citation:

Moiseeva D. Theories of European Integration in Searching for Explanation of Disintegration. Analysis & Forecasting. Journal of IMEMO, 2022, no 3, pp. 37-44.

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