Today many of us are so accustomed to the incessant and dynamic changes in most aspects of modern societies that amidst the flow of information we normally limit our interest only to the most sensational and outstanding events that take place in the world. However, there are numerous processes operating in the world that may be not immediately very visible but which hold a great potential in terms of their prospective influence on the whole system of international relations.
One of such extremely important tendencies is highlighted by Thomas Christiansen from the European Institute of Public Administration in Maastricht, who in his working paper “Towards Statehood? The EU`s Move Towards Constitutionalisation and Territorialisation” delves into the matter of the gradual crystallization within the European Union of the better understanding of what the ultimate general prospects of the European development are in terms of the aims of European integration, and in relation to the formation of a finalized geographic confines of the united Europe.
Let us overview the article of Christiansen, and try to analytically single out arguments of the author and explain their basis. In the end I will formulate my position on the same matter, and will try to give reasons as to why I agree or disagree with the author. Thomas Christiansen, a senior lecturer at the European Institute for Public Administration, is a person that has been actively involved into the research dedicated to past, present, and future European policies.
Indeed, he participates in making of the Journal of European Public Policy, co-edits the series named “Europe in Change” that is produced by Manchester University Press, and is a member of the European Consortium of Political Research. Such a solid background of Christiansen already warrants that he should be capable of providing of interesting insights into specific aspects of political tendencies within the European Union.
And Christiansen does exactly that in his paper, plus actually goes beyond merely political considerations and touches upon such a related theme as European cultural and religious self-identification. His writing style that occasionally offers vivid metaphors helps him avoid overly academic tone and attract attention. Christiansen starts with the important observation that the European Union is currently continuing to experience rapid transformations that hold promise of leading the united Europe to new forms of implementation of the union.
Of course, one of the most crucial factors generating such transformations is the enlargement of the European Union, which brings to light many questions that could be latent before. And what results might ensue from those transformations can already be gleaned from the very title of the paper that suggests the possibility of the adoption by Europe of a form reminiscent of a state. However, before such a state can be formed some requirements should be observed that in the modern world in most cases define the notion of state.
Two of the most essential of such requirements are constitutionalism as a form of governance, which in Europe is increasingly seen as desirable and even indispensable, and the striving to define the territorial finality, which for Europe is a pressing issue as well. The first general tendency that the author begins to analyze is the growing sentiment towards the advancement of the process of constitutionalisation in Europe, as contrasted with the traditional practice of basing of relations on international treaties when any attempt of integration was still perceived by European states as an element of their foreign policies.
Christiansen notes that with time the level of penetration of cooperative efforts of integration processes participants into their mutual internal affairs reached a point when the model of international relations was no longer valid, and it rather turned out that by 1980s European states were formulating a common policy and thus were developing signs of “an emerging polity in its own right” (Christiansen, 2005).
The author gives sufficient supporting evidence to highlight how this process of rapprochement was developing, and what supranational institutions, and even which particular conventions, greatly contributed to the realization of the need to have a common European constitution. It is at this point of the author`s study that we may begin to see how he manages not only to describe general tendencies, but also to make us aware of the specificity that exists in European approaches to fundamental processes of further self-determination.
For example, he analyses the Constitutional Treaty that in June of 2004 was agreed by European governments and highlights the peculiar state-like language employed there that demonstrates that at least in the realm of official terminology, if not yet in its concrete political forms, the European Union is ready for statehood. Thus, drawing our attention to such subtle inconsistencies within the European constitutional discourse, Christiansen successfully demonstrates the dynamics of the process of constitutionalisation, which does not develop in a straight line but rather is evolving according to the influence of unique European experiences.