The Amsterdam Process: A Structurationist Perspective on EU Treaty Reform

European Integration online Papers (EIoP), Vol. 3, No. 1, January 15, 1999

25 Pages Posted: 9 Mar 2002

See all articles by Thomas Christiansen

Thomas Christiansen

University of Wales System - Department of International Politics

Knud Erik Jorgensen

Aarhus University - Department of Political Science

Abstract

Intergovernmental Conferences are generally seen as key events in the design of the European Union. This paper challenges this traditional view. Arguing that treaty reform should be regarded as a continuous process rather than a series of events, the paper develops a procedural understanding of constitutional change based on structuration theory. In such a perspective, analytical attention is re-directed from the political limelight of largely ceremonial events to the more obscure 'valleys' ? the periods between the IGC summits in which the more momentous developments of European integration occur. The study of past instances of constitutional change as well as an analysis of the IGC leading to the Amsterdam Treaty demonstrate the significance of a wider set of actors and of the structural environment: the trajectory of past decisions, the multilateral generation of reform agendas, the institutionalised patterns of negotiation and decision-making and the constitutionalisation of the EU order. This severely limits the ability of national governments to negotiate on the basis of 'national interests' and thus dissolves one of the cornerstones of intergovernmentalism ? the over-arching significance of IGCs.

Keywords: European integration, intergovernmental conferences, constitutional change, Amsterdam Treaty, structuration theory, polity building, administrative adaptation, agency theory, differentiated integration, European law, integration theory, intergovernmentalism, treaty reform, political science

Suggested Citation

Christiansen, Thomas and Jorgensen, Knud Erik, The Amsterdam Process: A Structurationist Perspective on EU Treaty Reform. European Integration online Papers (EIoP), Vol. 3, No. 1, January 15, 1999. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=302732 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.302732

Thomas Christiansen (Contact Author)

University of Wales System - Department of International Politics ( email )

Aberystwyth SY23 3DA
United Kingdom
+44 1970 622703 (Phone)
+44 1970 622709 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.aber.ac.uk/interpol/staff/christiansen.html

Knud Erik Jorgensen

Aarhus University - Department of Political Science ( email )

Bartholins Allé è
DK-8000 Aarhus, 8000
Denmark

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