Jean Monnet Center at NYU School of Law

Symposium: Responses to Joschka Fischer


Rediscovering Functionalism

Renaud Dehousse *

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This paper is a part of contributions to the Jean Monnet Working Paper
No.7/00, Symposium: Responses to Joschka Fischer

Something strange is going on in Europe. While the academic community, usually not adverse to great theoretical discussions and to attempts to model the world, has so far displayed rather limited interest in the ongoing intergovernmental conference, political leaders of various countries have engaged in an unprecedented debate on the ultimate objectives of the integration process. In the wake of Joschka Fischer's speech at the Humboldt University, several heads of state and prime ministers have outlined their views on the future architecture of Europe, while their representatives were struggling on a draft charter of fundamental rights, which many regard as a first step towards some kind of European Constitution.

Needless to say, this represents a major change in the way national leaders approach the integration process. The history of the last 50 years is a long story of functional arrangements based on concrete projects. We are more familiar with self-proclaimed empiricism and ad hoc compromises worked out at a late hour in smoke-filled rooms than with principled deliberations on the common good. While one might wonder about the reasons for this unexpected U-turn, I would like to confine myself to a series of remarks, both of method and of substance. Is functionalism really dead, as is now widely assumed? How likely is it that the present discussion will lead to the emergence of new institutional arrangements that will be perceived as more legitimate by the European citizens?

* Institut d'études politiques, Paris


© Renaud Dehousse 2000


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