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(p. 67) 4. Liberal Intergovernmentalism 

(p. 67) 4. Liberal Intergovernmentalism
(p. 67) 4. Liberal Intergovernmentalism

Andrew Moravcsik

and Frank Schimmelfennig

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date: 22 September 2020

This chapter focuses on liberal intergovernmentalism (LI), which has acquired the status of a ‘baseline theory’ in the study of regional integration: an essential first cut explanation against which other theories are often compared. The chapter argues that LI has achieved this dominant status due to its theoretical soundness, empirical power, and utility as a foundation for synthesis with other explanations. After providing an overview of LI’s main assumptions and propositions, the chapter examines common criticisms levelled against it as well as the scope conditions under which LI is most likely to explain state behaviour(s). It then illustrates LI’s scope and empirical power with two cases: agricultural policy, an ‘easy’ case, and enlargement, a harder case. It also assesses the current state of the European Union and concludes by emphasizing LI’s openness to dialogue and synthesis with other theories and reiterating its status as a baseline theory of European integration.

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