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Report: Workshop "Multiple Connections in Post-war European Cooperation"

Apr 20, 2015

Wolfraim Kaiser & Kiran K. Patel

Wolfraim Kaiser & Kiran K. Patel

"Multiple Connections in Post-war European Cooperation: International Organizations, Policy Ideas, Practices and Transfers" is the second workshop organized by Professor Kiran Klaus Patel (Maastricht) and Professor Wolfram Kaiser (Portsmouth). Their first conference focused on continuities in European cooperation across the Second World War. The second conference held in Berlin on 29-30 January 2015 shifted the perspective to looking at the EU’s role, and that of its predecessors, in the web of European international organizations in post-war Europe, and especially in the period between the first oil crisis in 1973 and the Maastricht Treaty of 1992-3.

Ideas and policies diffused or transferred by the European Union to third countries, regional integration organizations or international organizations often originated outside of the EU in the first place, in the member states or in other international organizations – that much became clear during the first phase of the Research College “The Transformative Power of Europe”. As a result the second phase includes a contemporary historical research strand coordinated by Professor Kiran Klaus Patel and Professor Wolfram Kaiser, which explores the historical origins and evolution over time of the EU’s ideas, policies and institutions in an inter-organizational perspective, and what we can learn from that for understanding the EU’s role as an actor in the global world of regional integration. 

The conference was divided into three sections with altogether eleven papers. The first section focused on the origins of new European Communities (EC) policies that began to emerge in the 1970s, although in many cases they only became more formalized and based on reformed treaty articles during 1987-92. Thus, Jan-Henrik Meyer (Aarhus) showed in his paper how the EC was a latecomer to environmental policy and appropriated many ideas from the Council of Europe and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in the early 1970s. Similarly, as Oriane Calligaro (Maastricht/Munich) and Kiran Klaus Patel demonstrated, the EC assimilated many Council of Europe ideas when it began to develop its cultural policy especially during the 1980s, when competition between the two organizations was rife.

In fact, as Birte Wassenberg (Strasbourg) brought out in her contribution to the conference, that the Council of Europe was initially also far more pro-active in developing platforms for subnational actors at the regional and local level. Some actors then shifted their focus to the EC when it showed greater interest in this dimension of integration, and developed new funding mechanisms. Finally, as Leonard Laborie (CNRS, Paris) and Pascal Griset (Paris IV) showed for patent policy, competition between the EU and the Council of Europe sometimes resulted (as in this case) in the formation of an independent organization. The European Patent Office based in Munich is de facto dominated by EU member states, but completely outside of its legal remit.

The second conference section was devoted to the role of international organizations, including the EC in economic governance. Samuel Beroud (Geneva) analyzed the activities of the G7 for international economic policy coordination, especially with respect to the “locomotive theory” which sought to allocate special responsibility for global growth to Germany and Japan. Simon Godard (Geneva) enquired into cooperation across the not so “iron curtain” in the field of statistics, with a focus on cooperation between the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe and the Comecon – research that could be integrated with work on the role of “Western” organizations like the OECD and the EC in this field. Finally, Arie Krampf (Tel Aviv), a former KFG fellow, explored competition between and cooperation among the International Monetary Found in the origins of the Delors Report about European monetary union.

The third section zoomed in on the role of international organizations including the EC and external governance issues. Thus, Víctor Fernández Soriano (Rome) explored the role of networks, especially of political parties active in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and in the European Parliament, in shaping the Western European reaction to the dictatorship of the Greek colonels (1967-74), and the tacit emergence of what later became European political conditionality formalized in the Copenhagen criteria. Kai Hebel (Oxford) and Tobias Lenz (Göttingen/Hamburg) analyzed the role of NATO, and its cooperation with the European Political Cooperation of EC member states, in the early stages of the Helsinki process in the late 1960s and early 1970s. They showed how the EPC copy-pasted many ideas and proposals originally developed by NATO. Finally, Telse Rüter (Hamburg) presented initial results from her research on the cooperation of EC member state diplomats in the UN context, and its effects on the EPC in the 1970s, by focusing in particular on the case study of South Africa.

In conclusion, Thomas Risse (KFG, FU Berlin) and Hartmut Kaelble (HU Berlin) summarized the conference results from the perspective of the disciplines of International Relations and History, asking for more systematic analysis of the EC’s role in the web of international organizations. They also called for a clearer focus on the particularities of the period from 1973 to 1992 – a conference focus that had developed from the response to the original CFP. Both agreed, however, that this second research strand, as well as the first, has great potential for advancing the historiography of European integration, which has been narrowly focused on the EC/EU and often been normatively driven and teleological in character. They also stressed that the work presented at the workshop sheds new light on the KFG’s social science focus on comparative regionalism, where it can help to understand the roots of the EU’s external activities in propagating itself and its institutions and policies as a model for other organizations, and how these roots may have created long-term trajectories in the EU’s external strategies and the content it seeks to diffuse.

As in the case of the first conference, the second will also be followed by a smaller workshop in October 2015. At this workshop the authors of selected papers will come together to discuss their drafts with a view to fine-tuning them and enhancing the overall cohesion of the prospective collective publication.

By Wolfram Kaiser