How is Constructivism Needed to Explain the Enlargement of the European Union?
(Case- study: Turkey)
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This year the first new member states of the Eastern enlargement will join the EU. This refreshes also the debate about Turkey’s potential entry. No country has such a long time of appliance like Turkey and still there is the discussion if Turkey should join the EU at all. In the following I will explain why rational or constructivist reasons alone are not enough for explaining Turkey’s situation. I will try to show how the theory of Frank Schimmelfennig is needed to explain the enlargement of the EU. For this, Turkey will be my case study. First a general description of Schimmelfennig´s idea will introduce my case study before I will adapt his theory to the integration process of Turkey.
Frank Schimmelfennig bases his theory on rationalism and constructivism. For him the enlargement of the EU cannot only be explained by rational arguments about costs, benefits and state preferences. But also pure constructivism has some gaps in explaining why the EU wants to have new members or why new members want to join the EU. Constructivism just focuses on the collective identity which some states share but ignores the important parts of rationalism, like the intergovernmental bargaining between member states.
For Schimmelfennig enlargement means an expansion of community and thus sharing liberal norms and values within this community. The only problem is to bring these arguments in a normative format and for this he uses the idea of ´rhetorical action´, “the strategic use of norm-based arguments”. This is the missing link between constructivism and rational state preferences.
But how can rhetorical action intervene in the EU enlargement?
Schimmelfennig argues that from the beginning of the European integration the ideology of a community of states sharing the same liberal-democratic norms was the basic idea. But because some applying members did not have the power of material bargaining constructive norms and values have been the basic arguments for them. The question in my essay will be: how this theory is needed when you think of the EU enlargement with Turkey. Can rhetorical action give a solution for this problem?
Before I will analyze this question I have to explain Schimmelfennig´s theory more precisely:
He argues that there are different member states concerning state preferences within the EU, ´drivers´ and ´brakemen´.
Usually the preferences of the states can be linked to their geographical position. An enlargement has different impacts on the EU; on the one hand, the geographical proximity can strengthen the international interdependence. Countries in Eastern Europe still have problems with crises and wars, the proximity to the EU can stabilize these countries and help to strengthen the influence of peace and economic benefits on them.
On the other hand, economic benefits can be gained with geographical proximity, e.g. reduction of transport and communication costs. So it is clear that the countries, which share a border with an applying state, will be more involved and influenced by the enlargement than others and thus will have more benefits from the enlargement.
So consequently member states which are close to the applying countries are usually more interested in the enlargement than the others and are the ´drivers´.
Other countries, which fear that they have to share Structural and Cohesion funds with the new member states are of course against the enlargement, these countries are the ´brakemen´.
In contrast to rationalism, there is sociological institutionalism, which is based on the model of a ´homo sociologicus´ and the ´logic of appropriateness´. This theory sees “the international system as an institutional environment structured by intersubjective cognitions and norms.” It also declines the idea that actors act egoistically and instrumentally, instead of this the ´homo sociologicus´ thinks about the impact of his acting on others. So the behaviour of the member states is more influences by legitimacy and appropriateness than by the utilitarian demand for rational aims. Thus states which share the same norms and values of the community are more likely to become a part of this community. Norms, which are intersubjective shared expectations of an appropriate behaviour, guide the actions of people and depend on two factors:
First on communality, which can be seen as the amount of actors of a social system, and on specify, the accuracy with which the difference between a suitable and an unsuitable norm is measured.
Here, also the rational theories agree with the idea that norms influence the behaviour and acting, but these theories just understand the norms as a regulative character. Thus norms can only be restrictions or incentives for the actors, their way of doing something, and their decisions.
However constructivism also gives norms a constitutive character and has the opinion that they can have a formative influence on aims and interests of the actors. Following the actors adopt themselves to some social norms and reflect these in their behaviour. Thus actors do not only act selfish and benefit maximizing, like other rational theories think. In constructivism the idea of a ´homo oeconomicus´ or a ´path dependency´ seems to be irrelevant.
 Schimmelfennig, Frank, The Community Trap: Liberal Norms, Rhetorical Action, and the Eastern Enlargement of the European Union, p.48
 i Schimmelfennig, Frank, The Community Trap: Liberal Norms, Rhetorical Action, and the Eastern Enlargement of the European Union, p 48
 Schimmelfennig, Frank, The Community Trap: Liberal Norms, Rhetorical Action, and the Eastern Enlargement of the European Union , p.50
 Schimmelfennig, Frank, The Community Trap: Liberal Norms, Rhetorical Action, and the Eastern Enlargement of the European Union, p. 51
 Schimmelfennig, Frank, The Community Trap: Liberal Norms, Rhetorical Action, and the Eastern Enlargement of the European Union, p. 58
 Böckl, H., Rittberger, V., Wagner, W., Soziale Normen und normgerechte Außenpolitik- Konstruktivistische Außenpolitiktheorie und deutsche Außenpolitik nach der Vereinigung, p 76
 Böckl, H., Rittberger, V., Wagner, W., Soziale Normen und normgerechte Außenpolitik- Konstruktivistische
Außenpolitiktheorie und deutsche Außenpolitik nach der Vereinigung, p. 74