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ECPR 50th Anniversary Fund

Governing Europe: The Challenges Of Member-Statecraft

European Union
Furio Stamati
National Institute for Public Policy Analysis - INAPP (Rome)
Furio Stamati
National Institute for Public Policy Analysis - INAPP (Rome)

In the wake of unprecedented levels of interdependence and external direction, European integration has reshaped the nature of statehood in Europe. The neologism “Member-statehood” has aptly termed this transformation of political authority, legitimacy and sovereignty. In the age of Member-statehood, national sovereignty, democracy and (as a result) solidarity appear hollowed out. Aiming for intergovernmental compromise, politics turned more gubernatorial and efficiency-oriented, reinforcing the role of heads of executives and diplomatic relations. Surprisingly, however, a satisfactory account of the centrality of political leadership in EU politics is still missing. The present paper moves a first step in filling this gap. It proposes the concept of Member-statecraft, understood as the novel sort of “art of government” that prevails in the Member-statehood scenario. Analytically, it draws on the work of Weber, Heclo, Rokkan and American system theory, combining them with various neo-institutionalist approaches, most notably the British neo-statecraft theory. Political leaders are thus understood as crisis managers endowed with democratically legitimate political authority and engaged in iterative problem-solving. Accordingly, statecraft indicates the exertion of political power subject to a twofold constraint: orchestrating consensus by the formal procedures of democratic party government while pursuing policy solutions that are effective in the short term and not polity-disrupting in the long run. Member-statehood hardens this constraint in two ways: by restricting the scope of national party government and by confronting leaders with a more intractable European polity. The guiding hypothesis of this paper is that Member-statecraft occurs as a creative response to this challenge, which short-circuits domestic and EU constraints so as to expand the available level of government autonomy. This conjecture is empirically tested by looking at recent developments in European integration and diplomacy.
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