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European Integration Theory

European Integration Theory (3rd edn)

Antje Wiener, Tanja A. Börzel, and Thomas Risse
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date: 04 December 2021

p. 433. Neofunctionalismlocked

p. 433. Neofunctionalismlocked

  • Arne Niemann,
  • Zoe Lefkofridi
  •  and Philippe C. Schmitter

Abstract

This chapter focuses on neofunctionalism, one of the earlier theories of regional integration. Neofunctionalist theory was first formulated in the late 1950s and early 1960s, but began to receive increasing criticism from the mid1960s, particularly because of several adverse empirical developments, the culmination of which was the Empty Chair crisis of 1965–66 when French President Charles de Gaulle effectively paralysed the European Community. With the resurgence of the European integration process in the mid1980s, neofunctionalism made a substantial comeback. After providing an overview of neofunctionalism’s intellectual roots, the chapter examines early neofunctionalism’s core assumptions and hypotheses, including its central notion of ‘spillover’. It then considers the criticisms that have been levelled against it before turning to later revisions of the theory. Finally, this chapter applies the theory critically to explain the nature and probable outcome of the sovereign debt crisis.

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