Conflict, negotiation and European Union enlargement

Abstract

Christina Schneider’s ‘Conflict, Negotiation and European Union Enlargement’ is a major political economy contribution to the study of European Union (EU) enlargements. The book is based on the author’s dissertation written at the University of Konstanz, Germany. The analysis is theoretically sound and methodologically sophisticated and is a must-read for anybody interested in the causes and mechanism of EU enlargements. Schneider’s puzzle is straightforward. Why does the EU accept new member states under the condition of unanimity despite the existence of distributional conflicts? Why do the states that fear to lose from enlargement finally accept the accession of new member states? The background of this research question is Frank Schimmelfennig’s analysis of the ‘Community trap’ published in 2001 by International Organization. Both Schimmelfennig and Schneider agree that it is important not only just to look at the collective community interest but also to take the positions of individual member states as a starting point for a substantive analysis of enlargement. Schimmelfennig (2001, p. 62) explains the consent of the brakemen member states through rhetorical action, understood as the ‘strategic use of norm based arguments’. This mechanism for Schimmelfennig (2001, p. 76) constitutes the ‘missing link between egoistic preferences and norm-conforming outcome’. In his logic, hesitant member states in a community environment become rhetorically entrapped. Through ‘shaming’ they can be forced to accept the accession of new member states. Because of its reference to soft mechanisms of social influence and the importance of norms and values Schimmelfennig’s reading of enlargement is anchored in constructivist international relations theory. Schneider in contrast develops a theory of EU enlargements that is completely in line with rationalism. Her actors are utility maximizers; governments only care for domestic reelection. Following club theory, she expects conflicts to emerge in rivalrous policy areas. Her theory then focusses on the processes and outcomes of the accession negotiations and she treats the

Cite this paper

@inproceedings{Schneider2010ConflictNA, title={Conflict, negotiation and European Union enlargement}, author={Christina J. Schneider}, year={2010} }