Previous |Next |Title
The new Treaty of Amsterdam continues the course of European integration set in Maastricht, with a few exceptions. One of these exceptions is the possibility of Enhanced Cooperations. In simple terms, the new provisions on Enhanced Cooperations allow a group of Member States to negotiate inside European institutions EU norms that will only apply to them. There are many so called guarantees and safeguards to ensure a careful use of these new rules. Plus an impressive list of conditions that have to be met before launching these cooperations.  And yet, everyone admits enhanced cooperations will be eventually launched. This new mode of Community action could represent a big novelty in the process of European integration, with potentially far reaching consequences in the political and legal spheres.
In the following pages, I look at the birth of enhanced cooperations from a threefold perspective on European power, explained for the first time in 1995 by Joseph Weiler.  According to this vision, the Union today is only formally a single polity. In practice, there are three modes of European governance: international, supranational and infranational. In the international arena governments are the principal actors and states are monolithic players; the EU is just a forum to negotiate cooperation and minimize conflict. In the supranational field, EU constitutional rules and institutions really matter, and procedures, voting rules and coalition building between member states and EU institutions are essential. In the infranational arena, the dualist image Member States-Community/Union is no longer valid. National or European interests are not present; economic and social interests are represented in the language of technical expertise. Battles between lobbysts and administrators are central to the decision-making process.  These three realities of European power reflect the depth of European integration and also pose different challenges to the attempts to remedy the European democratic deficit.
It is tempting to explain the birth of enhanced cooperation focusing mainly on the international arena. The 1996-97 Intergovernmental Conference was, in this regard, an opportunity to increase member states´ power inside the Union. But this statal grab of power is not a simple task. It is true that the Union´s supranational arena (with its day to day constitutional rules and the decisive roles played by European institutions) will be affected by the birth of enhanced cooperations in some fundamental ways -in others, the move was not successful. In this paper, I speculate on how the birth of enhanced cooperations in the last IGC reflects the interests of international and supranational EU actors and how it can change the European polity. My interpretation is circumscribed to the Community pillar, where the constitutional impact of enhanced cooperations could be more serious.
Infranationalism, typically, is to be left aside in any first analysis of enhanced cooperations. Yet I would also like to suggest how this third facet of European power is part of the context that explains the birth of enhanced cooperations and how this arena will be affected by the cooperations -and could shape some of their outcomes.
 See in Appendix I the new Articles 43-45 of the Treaty on European Union and Article 11 of the EC Treaty after the Amsterdam reform
 See J. Weiler , U. Haltern, F. Mayer, "European Democracy and its Critics; Five Uneasy Pieces", Harvard Jean Monnet Working Paper, 1/95. See also José M. de Areilza, "Sovereignty or Management? The Dual Character of EC´s Supranationalism -Revisited", Harvard Jean Monnet Papers, 2/95
 See J. Weiler et al, "European Democracy and its Critics: Five Uneasy Pieces", op. cit, p. 27-30
Previous |Next |Title
Top of the page