It Walks Like a State and Talks Like a State But It’s Not a State: A Contribution to European Political Order Theory

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    • Presentation speakers
      • Marie-Ève Bélanger, Center for Comparative and International Studies, ETH Zurich


    Since the 1950’s, the EU has been analyzed without a formal definition. The use of international and comparative political theories in European integration studies has allowed the analysis to reach its present level. Yet, important questions regarding EU’s political system remain unanswered. This seems to point out this strategy has reached its limits. To create knowledge about EU’s nature, and not only about its functioning mechanisms, one must address the question of the origin of the European system: What is European’s political order’s structural foundation? This research addresses the issue of creating a comprehensive theory of EU’s territorial order construction. In its political space creation process, the EU repeatedly conducts peaceful border changes; this is a unique phenomenon in the Westphalian system’s history. In an effort to determine the underlying conditions for the construction of a supranational shared political space, I am tackling the question: What do Europeans say about their community when they talk about the enlargement? Using a discourse analysis framework I have designed from the study of the Schuman Declaration, I am analyzing over 70 political and legal discourses surrounding each of EU’s enlargements. Two sets of findings are most promising:

    a. Each new member-state is always included within the European discursive space before effectively becoming part of the EU. This indicates how this space is constructed: through a European intersubjective performance. The EU is always larger in the discourse than within its transitional borders;
    b. A pattern of how Europeans discursively construct their political space is emerging: when talking about the enlargement, Europeans always refer to the origins, the future, the space and the meaning of the community. In the European discourse, the community emerges from reconciliation (origin) and goes towards political integration (future); it needs to stay open (space) in order to preserve peace on the continent (meaning).

    This pattern structures how order – the configuration between legality and legitimacy – is constructed in the EU. It is this specific order construction process that will be explored here.