European Integration and Its Modes: Function vs. Territory

TARN Working Paper No. 2/2016

19 Pages Posted: 11 May 2016

See all articles by Giandomenico Majone

Giandomenico Majone

European University Institute - Economics Department (ECO)

Date Written: April 27, 2016


This paper argues in favour of a generalized agencification of Europe, i.e., in favour of a move to a strictly functional approach to European integration. This change of approach is the natural consequence of a change of the main criterion used to assess the consequences of integration: from evaluation in terms of process to evaluation in terms of actual results. The priority previously assigned to process made it possible to claim that the continuous expansion of supranational powers had produced a steady flow of benefits. The new focus on results makes it increasingly difficult to appeal to the indefinite goal of ‘ever closer union’. The crises of monetary union and massive immigration from the Middle East have dramatically revealed the deep divisions still separating the members of the Union. The older member states claim that the solution is to be found in a multi-speed approach to integration. Such an approach cannot solve the basic problem, which is the lack of agreement on the final destination of the integration process. I argue that until the member states reach such an agreement, the focus of collective action should shift from the present emphasis on supranational institutions and policy harmonization to a decentralized system of operational agencies, tackling specific problems and being directly responsible for the results they achieve. Once the benefits of this mode of integration are generally recognized, it becomes meaningful to advocate close cooperation also in the political sphere — as long as one does not repeat the neofunctionalist mistake of assuming that close economic relations sooner or later must lead to political integration. Instead of trying to transfer to the European level all the key economic policies of the nation- state, collective efforts should concentrate on what Europe needs most if it is still to play a significant role internationally: a truly common foreign and security policy.

Keywords: Agencification, EU, EU Agencies, European Integration, Functionalism

Suggested Citation

Majone, Giandomenico, European Integration and Its Modes: Function vs. Territory (April 27, 2016). TARN Working Paper No. 2/2016. Available at SSRN: or

Giandomenico Majone (Contact Author)

European University Institute - Economics Department (ECO) ( email )

Villa San Paolo
Via della Piazzuola 43
50133 Florence

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