The European Union as a Chaotic System

The European Union as a Chaotic System

Joan Pere Plaza i Font (ESCI Business School, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Spain)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-0148-0.ch003
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Abstract

From an analytical perspective, moreover, the study of the European Union, both as an actor and as an arena, has also precipitated many theoretical attempts to explain the genesis and the evolution of this object that has been even provocatively considered an Unidentified Political Object. This contribution will defend that Chaology's conceptual core may be of great help to overpass those quarrels, and that, surprisingly or not, these concepts do also fit in the theoretical assumptions driven by Historical Institutionalism, the analytical school that, since the 1990s has been proposing a suggestive approach to the European Integration process that to some extend challenge those that used to be the mainstream positions. All in all, this contribution has a two-folded objective. Firstly, it seeks to review the aforementioned debates through the lens of Chaos Theory to prove that in most cases, the reciprocal critics among the mainstream approaches to the European Union do actually lack of precise understanding of the basic features of any chaotic system. Secondly, it proposes few examples to illustrate this chaotic nature of the European integration process.
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Introduction

For more than five decades now, the still on-going process of political (and economic) integration involving the majority of the Western and Central European Democracies has given rise to a radically new polity, the European Union. Beyond its symbolic nuances and historical background, there is no doubt that the importance of the European Union stems from the fact that throughout these years it has critically transformed the many levels of political decision-making it is involved in (from the local one to the international one), it has evolved so much that one could even consider that no-return points have been reached.

From an analytical perspective, moreover, the study of the European Union, both as an actor and as an arena, has also precipitated many theoretical attempts to explain the genesis and the evolution of this object that has been even provocatively considered an Unidentified Political Object. Yet no consensus exists on the very nature of the European Union, and the EU scholars have proposed very distinct interpretations of the meaning of the European Union and on the most appropriate basic unit of analysis, most times confronting each other.

This contribution will defend that Chaology’s conceptual core may be of great help to overpass those quarrels, and that, surprisingly or not, these concepts do also fit in the theoretical assumptions driven by Historical Institutionalism, the analytical school that, since the 1990s has been proposing a suggestive approach to the European Integration process that to some extend challenge those that used to be the mainstream positions.

For the aim of this contribution, thus, it is extremely important to mention that Historical Institutionalism introduces two paramount assumptions. On the one hand it suggests that the European Union should be understood as the emerging product of a complex process guided by Member States but with the necessary participation of other (sometimes, unexpected) actors. On the other hand, it acknowledges the historical embeddedness of the process leading to the current EU, and in so doing, it permits to understand its evolutions through the lens of Chaos Theory.

All in all, this contribution has a two-folded objective. Firstly, it seeks to review the aforementioned debates through the lens of Chaos Theory to prove that in most cases, the reciprocal critics among the mainstream approaches to the European Union do actually lack of precise understanding of the basic features of any chaotic system. Secondly, it proposes few examples to illustrate this chaotic nature of the European integration process.

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