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Dr. Andreas Bieler,                                                                   4 February, 1999

Selwyn College,

Cambridge  CB3 9DQ,



The enlargements of the European Union:


1. Introduction:

When the European Economic Community was established in 1957 by France, Germany, Italy and the Benelux countries, and the European Free Trade Area (EFTA) was founded three years later by Austria, Britain, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Switzerland and Portugal, the tensions for further enlargements were initiated. “As an organisation established in reaction to the EC, [EFTA] was, from the outset, vulnerable to defections should circumstances change” (Preston: 1997, pp.26/27). The EEC soon outperformed economically EFTA and members of the latter were keen to join the former. The two rejections of British membership by de Gaulle in 1963 and 1967, mainly because Britain’s commitment to the acquis communautaire was doubted, put enlargement in general on hold. After the General’s death, however, enlargement proceeded in several waves. Britain, Denmark, and Ireland were the first new members in 1973, Greece joined in 1981, Spain and Portugal in 1986. Finally, when Finland, Sweden and Austria acceded to the EU on 1 January 1995, EFTA was left with only Norway, Iceland, Switzerland, and Lichtenstein as its members.

            The framework for negotiating accessions was laid out in Article 237 of the Treaty of Rome in 1957. European states have to apply to the Council, which asks then the Commission to prepare an opinion, the so-called Avis, on the applicant, identifying the likely problems of accession and recommending whether or not to open negotiations. The Council is not legally forced to follow the Commission’s opinion - due to political reasons it proceeded with negotiations in the case of Greece in 1976 despite the Commission’s argument in favour of a lengthy association period - but in general it does follow the Commission’s recommendation. Once the negotiations, mainly an intergovernmental affair with the Commission in the role of an honest broker, are successfully completed, the European summit has to endorse the results and the process of ratification in member states and applicants commences. What is a formality in the case of the former may develop into a hot political battle in the case of the latter, especially if a referendum is required as in the case of the 1995 enlargement. In fact, successfully negotiated deals were turned down twice in Norway in referenda in 1972 and 1994 (Preston: 1997, pp.10-18).

            In this lecture, I will provide insights into the reasons behind the 1995 enlargement and here in particular Austria’s and Sweden’s accession to the EU. Both countries pursued a foreign policy of neutrality after the Second World War and were characterised by a distinctive corporatist policy-making system, which emphasised the combination of an internationally competitive export sector with compensatory schemes and protection for some sectors at the national level. It is thus a most similar approach of analysis. The Norwegian and Finnish applications, part of the same enlargement round, are different in several respects. Norway, firstly, has been a member of NATO and was clearly integrated into the Western military alliance. Secondly, it had already applied to the EU in 1967 and membership as such was discussed much earlier to its full extent than in Austria and Sweden. Finland’s position on membership, on the other hand, was characterised by its special relationship with the Soviet Union. “The cornerstone of Finnish foreign policy was the continuation of the 1948 Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance with the USSR. Finland recognised the primacy of military-security issues and gauged all other relations against this dimension. The position of Finland was to preserve the ‘status quo’” (Miles: 1994, p.64). In 1961, it became associated with EFTA and it signed a Free Trade Agreement with the EU in 1973, but this was the maximum possible in view to the restraints of its foreign policy. Brief comments will be made on both cases later on, but in general they are distinctively different and warrant a separate treatment.

            Since the last round of enlargement, 12 new applicants have knocked at the door of the EU: Cyprus, Malta, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Bulgaria, Czech Republic and Slovenia. This implies that the EU could grow to up to 27 members. The implications of, and possibilities for, these future enlargements will be considered in the last section of the lecture.


2. Austria’s and Sweden’s accession to the EU:

On 1 January 1995, Sweden and Austria acceded to the European Union (EU). Historically, membership had been rejected in both countries for mainly two reasons. Firstly, a majority of forces in both countries agreed that the neutral status excluded the possibility of membership in a supranational economic organisation such as the EU, because it implied a loss of national sovereignty and possible participation in measures such as one-sided embargoes of weapon exports (Huldt: 1994, p.111; Neuhold: 1992, p.89). Secondly, the domination of the EU by Christian Democratic Parties and big capital appeared to imply a threat to the social democratic achievements in both countries. The majority of Austria’s heavy industry had been nationalised after World War Two, mainly in order to protect it against the reparation demands by the occupying allies. For a large part of the Austrian Social Democratic Party (SPÖ), however, it was also a precondition for the achievement of full employment and the maintenance of state authority over the economy. “Rightly, the Socialists argued that the contribution of the state-owned sector in economic stabilization, full employment, and regional development would be menaced if Austria were forced to accept supranational direction from Christian Democratic governments” (Kurzer: 1993, p.207). Similarly in Sweden, in particular the left wing of the Social Democratic Party (SAP) and the Communist, since 1990 Left Party, argued that “Swedish involvement in the political integration of the [EU] would harm rather than sustain her capacity to pursue a welfare programme based on the principles of equal rights and advanced state-intervention” (Jerneck: 1993, p.26). Why, then, did Austria and Sweden join the EU at a moment, when it had moved towards positions, which even further contributed to the dangers outlined above? The Internal Market programme of 1985 and the plans for Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) in the Treaty of Maastricht of 1991 signified a combination of liberalisation, deregulation and further supranational policy co-ordination and, therefore, threatened to undermine national policy autonomy even further. Also, the Treaty of Maastricht established first steps towards a Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP), which at least potentially could imply sovereignty pooling in this area in the future and thus threaten Austria’s and Sweden’s neutral status.

            In this lecture, it is argued that the 1995 enlargement of the EU has to be analysed against the background of the structural changes since the early 1970s, often referred to as globalisation. Briefly, globalisation can be defined as the transnationalisation of production and finance at the material level, expressed in the rise in size and numbers of transnational corporations (TNCs) and a world-wide deregulation of national financial markets, and a change from Keynesian ideas to neo-liberalism at the ideological level (Cox: 1993, pp.259/260, 266/267). The established theories of integration are unable to explain and understand the puzzle of Austria’s and Sweden’s sudden accession to the EU. Most importantly, they are unable to account for the structural change of globalisation due to their deterministic assumptions. Neo-Gramscianism is suggested as an alternative approach, the use of which is outlined with empirical examples of Austria’s and Sweden’s accession to the EU.


a) The limits of established integration theories:

Neo-functionalist and intergovernmentalist approaches have dominated the explanation of European integration. The former assume that integration starts when it is realised that certain economic problems yield higher welfare gains, if they are dealt with at the supranational level. Once transnational functional co-operation has successfully started in one sector, the logic of spill-over automatically leads to integration in other sectors. More and more responsibilities are transferred to institutions in a new centre as are the activities of interest groups (Haas, 1958; Lindberg, 1963). 

            Some studies of Austria’s and Sweden’s accession to the EU incorporate one or the other aspect of neo-functionalism in an eclectic way. Jerneck, for example,  touches upon the notion of political spill-over as a force towards further integration by highlighting the increasing involvement of Swedish transnational actors in Brussels (Jerneck: 1993, p.42). There are also examples, where the important role of central institutions such as the Commission is outlined. Gstöhl, for example, highlights the Commission’s and here especially Delors’ role in starting the European Economic Area (EEA)[1] process in January 1989 (Gstöhl: 1996, p.55). Pedersen utilises all three versions of spill-over in his explanation of the move from the EEA to membership. The attempt to establish an Internal Market comprising all EU and EFTA members created functional spill-over, which led to an expansion of the negotiation agenda. This pressure was intensified by political spill-over of EFTA interest groups, which shifted their loyalty to the EU. Eventually, not to lose involvement in decision-making in too many areas, EFTA governments opted for membership, which gave them co-decision making power. An explanation along the line of cultivated spill-over focuses on directed change and political leadership. “One may thus interpret the apparent failure of the EEA as a success in disguise, as part of an incrementalist strategy aimed at integrating EFTA in the [EU]” (Pedersen: 1994, p.16). 

            Overall, these studies employ neo-functionalist concepts only as partial explanations. A neo-functionalist explanation of the entire process leading towards membership is neither attempted nor deemed to be possible. In general, there are two major shortcomings. Firstly, the notion of spill-over implies an inevitable, teleological process of further integration along an objective economic rationality. The discussion below, however, demonstrates that there were strong forces in Austria and Sweden, which opposed EU membership. A closer economic relationship short of full membership was debated as an alternative and eventual accession was not the result of structural necessity, but the outcome of an open-ended struggle. Membership was anything but inevitable. Secondly, neo-functionalism explains European integration through an emphasis on the internal dynamics of European politics. The wider structure, within which European integration is situated, is completely neglected. It is, therefore, impossible to take into account structural changes such as globalisation and the end of the Cold War. As a consequence, neo-realist, intergovernmental explanations are sought in relation to structural change (e.g. Pedersen: 1994, p.17).

In contrast to neo-functionalism, which emphasises the importance of non-governmental interest groups in the process of European integration, intergovernmentalism, the sister theory of neo-realism in IR, considers the international structure to be an anarchic system, in which states, being the only significant actors, pursue rationalist policies of power maximisation and security enhancement in order to ensure their survival. The most important explanatory variable is the distribution of capabilities between states. Changes in this distribution lead to actions by states to counter possible losses (Waltz: 1979).

            With reference to European integration, Hoffmann concludes that a convergence of national preferences is the precondition for European integration. Europe “has to wait until the separate states decide that their peoples are close enough to justify the setting up of a European state ...” (Hoffmann: 1966, p.910). Thus, states are seen as “gate-keepers” between their people and Europe. They carefully guard their sovereignty, which is ensured by the principle of unanimity voting in the Council of Ministers.

            There are some explanations of Austria’s and Sweden’s accession to the EU along intergovernmentalist lines. Koch, for example, argues that Austria responded to the pressure of economic necessity. Its close economic links with the EU and its bad economic performance in comparison to other Western European countries from the early 1980s onwards left no other option than membership (Koch: 1994). Similarly, Miles points to economic imperatives, which drove Sweden towards membership. The end of the Cold War and the concomitant changes in the international structure facilitated this move in that it “removed the shackles of keeping a rigid neutrality policy” (Miles: 1994, p.83). In short, both countries joined the EU in response to changes in the distribution of economic and military resources between states.

            In contrast to neo-functionalism, intergovernmentalism takes the international setting of integration into account. Nevertheless, its exclusive focus on states in the international arena limits changes to changes in the state structure. Structural changes such as globalisation, which go beyond the state structure, cannot be accounted for. By the same token, the explanation is still deterministic, since states as the main actors can only adapt to structural change. Austrian and Swedish EU membership again appears as a natural inevitability. Thus, intergovernmentalism cannot explain the particular choice made by Austria and Sweden to drop their post-war Keynesian economic policy and adopt neo-liberalism represented by the EU.

The criticism of intergovernmentalism for taking states as unitary actors led to the proposal of complementing it with a domestic perspective (Bulmer: 1983). The analysis of domestic politics explains the construction of national interests, the strategies adopted by states, and it shows when national ratification of international agreements is possible (Milner: 1992). Putnam combines the domestic perspective with intergovernmentalism by suggesting that “the politics of many international negotiations can usefully be conceived as a two-level game” (Putnam: 1988, p.434). Level I refers to agreements between states at the international level, whereas Level II looks at the ratification process at the domestic level. Putnam’s hypothesis is that a government only concludes an international agreement, for which it expects to be able to construct a majority coalition between societal groups at the domestic level.

            The convergence of national interests around a neo-liberal, deregulatory programme with the focus on low inflation was a precondition for the revival of European integration in the mid-1980s. In relation to the EU and the neo-liberal Internal Market programme, Cameron points to the changes in the partisan composition of national governments in the early 1980s to explain the shift from Keynesianism to neo-liberalism. Most notably, Mrs. Thatcher took office in Britain in 1979, but changes also took place in Belgium, the Netherlands, Denmark and Germany and they “shared one feature in common: they all represented a shift toward a more conservative position” (Cameron: 1992, p.57). Transferred to the cases of Austria and Sweden, however, this explanation based on domestic politics shows deficiencies. In Sweden, the turn to neo-liberalism occurred under a Social Democratic government, while in Austria it was not only the inclusion of the conservative ÖVP into a coalition government in 1987, but also the internal change of the SPÖ, the stronger party in  government, which led to the adoption of neo-liberal policies. The European left changed during the 1980s and this cannot be explained by pointing to structural and domestic events alone. Instead, the impact of neo-liberalism as a set of economic ideas has to be investigated to explain the general turn to neo-liberalism by parties of the right and the left.

            This approach is further limited, because lobbying by interest groups can only be considered to take place within a countries’ domestic realm. Thereby, the significance of transnational actors, as for example transnational corporations (TNCs), is neglected. Their level of action is European if not world-wide, maintaining production sites in several countries at the same time. This allows them, firstly, to develop initiatives with the Commission and to lobby several governments at the same time. Secondly, they can put pressure on national governments by either threatening to transfer production units to other countries or by actually carrying out this threat, if certain conditions are not met. State-centric approaches can only account for TNCs by regarding them as several, unconnected actors in their individual domestic sphere, not as transnational actors transgressing the line of separation between international and domestic politics.

            TNCs were especially crucial in Sweden’s accession to the EU. They transferred production units to the EU prior to the SAP’s decision to apply for membership and they threatened further cutbacks of their activities in Sweden during the referendum campaign, should the Swedish population decide against membership (Fioretos: 1997). Considering that some TNCs even transferred their headquarters to the EU and, thereby, gave up their distinctive Swedish identity, this inadequacy becomes apparent.

            In order to tackle these shortcomings, Moravcsik the so far most sophisticated state-centric approach, labelled “liberal intergovernmentalism” (LI). He, firstly, connects a liberal theory of national preference formation, i.e. ”domestic politics”, with an intergovernmentalist analysis of inter-state negotiations in a two-level game, and then adds a regime theory component. States as rational decision-makers would use them to increase the efficiency of inter-state coopoeration, including the transfer to supranational institutions, and accept the restriction of their external sovereignty, because EU “institutions strengthen the autonomy of national political leaders vis-à-vis particularistic social groups within their domestic polity” (Moravcsik: 1993, p.507).    

Nonetheless, even LI shows severe deficiencies. It provides no insight into how the independent role of ideas is to be investigated or how transnational actors can be accounted for. TNCs’ behaviour such as the investment boom of the 1980s in the EU are interpreted as rational adaptations to credible intergovernmental commitments, while policy ideas are merely viewed as the result of intergovernmental demands, but not as an independent force (Moravcsik: 1995, p.618). In short, this predominant emphasis on states as main actors in international relations prevents all types of intergovernmentalism from dealing with ideas and transnational actors as independent forces behind integration.

            Finally, the exclusive state-centric focus makes all varieties of intergovernmentalism concentrate on inter-state negotiations as the crucial event of further integration. Wincott, however, points out that instances of integration are not so much the result of intergovernmental negotiations, but emerge from the “everyday grind of the Community” (Wincott: 1995). In other words, the process leading to negotiations and setting the agenda is more important than the negotiations themselves. It is argued below that although not without importance, the Austrian and Swedish accession negotiations are only a link between the original decision to apply and the final decision in the referendum to accept the terms of membership.

             In order to overcome the shortcomings of the neo-functionalist and intergovernmental integration theories, several scholars suggest combining intergovernmentalism with neo-functionalism as a remedy in respect of EU enlargement (e.g. Pedersen: 1994, Miles/Redmond/Schwok: 1995). Nevertheless, this is misleading. As Puchala had already observed in 1972, “attempts to juxtapose or combine the conventional frameworks for analytical purposes by and large yield no more than artificial, untidy results” (Puchala: 1972, pp.276/277). Neo-functionalist approaches cannot be combined with state-centric approaches, as their basic assumptions diametrically oppose each other. While the former speak about the supersession of states, the latter consider sovereignty to be unchangeable. Hence, an alternative approach is suggested in the next section.


b) a neo-Gramscian alternative:

This lecture suggests a neo-Gramscian perspective as developed by Robert W. Cox in two seminal articles in the early 1980s (Cox: 1986, first published in 1981, and 1983). Most importantly, neo-Gramscianism focuses on social forces, engendered by the production process, as the most important collective actors. Consequently, the various fractions of labour and capital can be identified by relating them to their place in the production system. This makes structural changes such as globalisation accessible, since the emergence of new social forces engendered by the transnationalisation of production and finance can be incorporated. Thus, these forces are located in the wider structure of the social relations of production, which do not determine but shape their interests and identity. A basic distinction can be drawn between national social forces of capital and labour stemming from national production sectors and transnational capital and labour, engendered by those production sectors, which are organised on a transnational scale. The first group can further be subdivided into nationally-oriented capital and labour, which stem from domestic production sectors which produce for the national market, and internationally-oriented capital and labour, engendered by domestic production sectors, which produce for the international market.

            Secondly, neo-Gramscianism ‘rejects the notion of objective laws of history and focuses upon class struggle ... [be they intra-class or inter-class] ... as the heuristic model for the understanding of structural change’ (Cox: 1986, p. 248). It is, thus, realised that there are no inevitable developments in history. Instances of European integration are as much the outcome of an open-ended struggle as are other political developments.

            Thirdly, while the state is still considered to be an important analytical category, it is regarded as a structure within which and through which social forces operate rather than as an actor in its own right. There are several forms of states and the national interest, the ‘raison d’état’, cannot be separated from society, as it depends on the configuration of social forces at the state level.

            Finally, neo-Gramscianism takes into account the independent role of ideas. On the one hand, they are considered to be a part of the overall structure in the form of “intersubjective meanings”. Hence, ideas establish the wider frameworks of thought, “which condition the way individuals and groups are able to understand their social situation, and the possibilities of social change” (Gill/Law: 1988, p.74). On the other hand, ideas may be used by actors as “weapons” in order to legitimise particular policies and are important in that they form a part of a hegemonic project by “organic intellectuals” (see below) (Bieler: 1998, pp.72-80). This treatment of ideas allows neo-Gramscianism to take into account changes such as the shift from Keynesianism to neo-liberalism. 

            Various social forces may attempt to form an historic bloc in order to establish an order preferable to them at the national and/or international level. ‘The historic bloc is the term applied to the particular configuration of social classes and ideology that gives content to a historical state’ (Cox: 1987, p.409) and, thus, consists of structure and superstructure. It forms a complex, politically contestable and dynamic ensemble of social relations, which includes economic, political and cultural aspects. The relationship between structure and superstructure is reciprocal. “Superstructures of ideology and political organisation shape the development of both aspects of production ... [i.e. the social relations and the physical means of production] ... and are shaped by them” (Cox: 1983, p.168).

            Another important neo-Gramscian concept is hegemony. Unlike the neo-realist notion of hegemony, in which a hegemonic state controls and dominates other states and the international order thanks to its superior amount of economic and military capabilities (Gilpin: 1981, p.29; Keohane: 1984, pp.32/33), it describes a type of rule, which predominantly relies on consent, not on coercion. Additionally, it is established on a historic bloc that does not necessarily coincide with the boundaries of a state. Hegemony “is based on a coherent conjunction or fit between a configuration of material power, the prevalent collective image of ... order ... and a set of institutions which administer the order with a certain semblance of universality” (Cox: 1986, p.223).

            “Organic intellectuals” play a crucial role in achieving hegemony. According to Gramsci,

every social group, coming into existence on the original terrain of an essential function in the world of economic production, creates together with itself, organically, one or more strata of intellectuals which give it homogeneity and an awareness of its own function not only in the economic but also in the social and political fields (Gramsci: 1971, p.5).


They do not simply produce ideas, but it is their task to organise the social forces they stem from and to develop a “hegemonic project” which is able to transcend the particular interests of this group so that other social forces outside the historic bloc are able to give their consent. Such a hegemonic project must be based on “organic” ideas, which stem from the economic sphere. It must, however, also go beyond economics into the political and social sphere, incorporating “organic” ideas related to issues such as social reform or moral regeneration, to result in a stable hegemonic political system. It “brings the interests of the leading class into harmony with those of subordinate classes and incorporates these other interests into an ideology expressed in universal terms” (Cox: 1983, p.168).

            Since neo-Gramscianism’s starting-point is an analysis of social forces as the main actors, these social forces have to be identified in the Austrian and Swedish case through an examination of the two countries’ production structure.

            Austria’s post-war production structure has been predominantly characterised by small-scale industry. In 1992, out of the 2.19 million working population, 55 per cent were employed in small-sized companies with less than 100 employees and 28 per cent in medium-sized companies with less than 1000 employees. This is a relatively high percentage in an international comparison. In general, these companies contribute only between one and two thirds to the overall national employment (Breit/Rössl: 1992, p.191). Importantly, about 50 per cent of Austrian domestic production was completely sheltered against international competition with regulated supply and production quota (Luif: 1994, p.26).

            Siegel identified 21 Austrian TNCs, but only one of them, Austrian Industries, lived up to international standards in 1990 (Siegel: 1992), but was dissolved and sold off into smaller companies from 1993 onwards. The 21 TNCs were mainly concentrated on Austria in their production structure, employing only 20 per cent of their workforce abroad (Siegel: 1992, p.167). The low number of TNCs and their focus on Austria also signals a low degree of transnationalisation of production.

            As a consequence, the main line of division is likely to be between nationally-oriented capital and labour and internationally-oriented capital and labour. While the former may reject EU membership since this implies the end of their protection against international competition, the latter most likely support accession to the EU since this guarantees primary access to their export markets. The few transnational social forces can be expected to join forces with internationally-oriented capital and labour, as they too rely on international free trade and liberalisation.

             Unlike Austria, Sweden’s production structure has always been characterised by TNCs. The degree of transnationalisation, however, increased dramatically in the second half of the 1980s, when there was a drastic upturn in outward FDI. While inward FDI had only risen from US$ 396 million in 1985 to US$ 2328 million in 1990, outward FDI increased from US$ 1783 million to US$ 14136 million during the same period (Luif: 1996, pp.208/209). This is even more dramatic, if one takes into account that “in 1989 for the first time ever, Sweden invested more abroad than at home” (Kurzer: 1993, p.133). The transnationalisation of Swedish production is also expressed in the change in the Swedish and foreign share of TNCs’ employees and production. In 1965, TNCs employed 33.9 per cent of their employees abroad, where they achieved 25.9 per cent of their turnover. By 1990, the situation had drastically changed. 60.6 per cent of the workforce was employed in the production abroad, accounting for 51.4 per cent of the turnover. This increased emphasis on production abroad was especially apparent between 1986 and 1990. The percentage of employees abroad rose by 11.4 per cent, i.e. 42.7 per cent of the overall increase between 1965 and 1990, and the percentage of turnover abroad by 9.1 per cent, i.e. 35.7 per cent of the overall increase between 1965 and 1990 (Braunerhjelm et al: 1996, p.10; own calculations). In some instances, this even included the transfer of headquarters. Asea Brown Boveri moved to Zürich/Switzerland and Tetra Pak and IKEA to locations in the EU. As a result, the main line of division in Sweden is likely to be between national capital and labour on the one hand, and transnational capital and labour on the other. Internationally-oriented social forces are less important and can be considered to be allies of transnational forces and their quest for EU membership and full participation in the internal market.

            The emphasis on social forces as main actors does not imply that political parties and interest associations are considered to be unimportant. Nevertheless, in contrast to pluralist, corporatist and policy networks approaches (e.g. Lehmbruch/Schmitter: 1982; Marsh/Rhodes: 1992), they are not considered to be rationalistic, unitary actors. Rather, they are regarded as institutional frameworks within and through which different class fractions of capital and labour attempt to establish their particular interests and ideas as those generally accepted. A neo-Gramscian analysis, therefore, also has to determine which social forces gained the upper hand in the various Austrian and Swedish parties and interest organisations.

            Similarly, state institutions are not excluded from the analysis because of the focus on social forces. Nevertheless, rather than regarding the state as a unitary actor, the officials of the various state institutions are analysed according to the location of the individual institution in relation to the global economy. In general and due to globalisation, it can be distinguished between those institutions, which are linked to the global economy (e.g. central banks and finance ministries) on the one hand, and those institution which predominantly deal with national issues (e.g. labour ministries) on the other.

            Finally, it is also important to remember that the focus on social forces instead of states as the main actors implies a shift away from the concentration on the inter-state negotiations of Austria’s and Sweden’s accession to the EU. Instead, the following examples are drawn from the process in both countries, which led to alliances in favour of application and from the struggle in the run-up to the referenda, which decided whether the negotiation results were actually enacted. In other words, the negotiation agenda included those demands, which various class fractions of the alliance made their preconditions for support, and the negotiators had to achieve satisfactory results in those areas, which the population considered to be the most crucial ones. Otherwise, a pro-membership result in the referendum would be very unlikely. Hence, the negotiations are only the link between the original decision to apply and the final decision in the referendum whether or not to accept the negotiation results. They do not play the role, envisaged by intergovernmental approaches.


c) Examples from Austria’s and Sweden’s accession to the EU:

The main actor to start the debate was the Austrian Federation of Industrialists (VÖI). Representing the export sector of the Austrian economy and foreign TNCs, it was deeply concerned about the possible barriers implied by the EU Internal Market project. After careful considerations, it published a statement on 14 May 1987 and asked the government “to do everything possible for Austria to become a full member of the EU as soon as possible” [translation by the author] (VÖI: 1987a, p.42). The argument went along neo-liberal economic lines. Only membership would guarantee full participation in the dynamic process of European integration and the required dismantling of Austria’s sheltered sector would bring about restructuring and increased competitiveness. Nevertheless, the VÖI realised that the main obstacle to membership could be Austria’s status of neutrality. It, consequently, commissioned a study by two experts of international law, which concluded that membership was compatible with neutrality (Hummer/Schweitzer: 1987). Two more publications dealing with the economic and constitutional aspects of membership followed soon (Breuss/Stankovsky: 1988, Öhlinger: 1988). The goal of these publications was to establish a basis for discussion on membership, which had not existed before (Interview No.2, Vienna, 22/05/1995). The VÖI’s strategy did not lead directly to membership. Nonetheless, it provided a coherent hegemonic project around which various fractions of social forces could rally.

            It was, firstly, supported by internationally-oriented social forces of capital. In particular the textile industry declared membership a vital issue for its economic survival. Some textile employers even threatened to transfer production units to the EU in case of non-membership (Interview, No.4; Vienna, 24/04/1996). They gained the upper hand in the Chamber of Commerce, which demanded membership at its annual general conference on 9 December 1987 (BWK: 1987, pp.457-459).

            The trade unions found it more difficult to support accession to the EU. Eventually, labour of the internationally-oriented sectors determined the Chamber of Labour’s and the Austrian Federation of Trade Unions’, the two peak organisations of labour, support for application, provided neutrality was not compromised and the economic gains were used to improve the income, employment and welfare of the general population with a commitment to full employment as the priority of the economic and social policy (AK: 1989, ÖGB: 1988). In talks with the employer associations, high-ranking trade union officials had realised that they were unable to suggest an alternative to membership, which would offer the same kind of economic benefits. Therefore, they supported membership, but made it dependant on a fair distribution of the gains (Interview No.1; Vienna, 12/05/1995).

            Internationally-oriented capital and labour had a similar success in the two main parties, the SPÖ and the Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP), which formed a coalition government from January 1987 onwards. The latter decided in January 1988 to push for membership (ÖVP: 1988). It had already adopted a neo-liberal strategy in 1982, when it demanded budgetary cuts, tax reform flexibility, deregulation and privatisation (Meth-Cohn/Müller: 1994, pp.162/163). Membership appeared to be a logical step along these lines. Nevertheless, it had to overcome strong internal opposition of its agricultural wing, which was also organised in the Chamber of Agriculture. Apart from some limited exports to the EU in the area of cattle, agriculture was a totally nationally-oriented sector. Austrian production prices were higher than in the EU partly due to a different agricultural structure based on small and middle-sized farms with a strong emphasis on ecological factors in contrast to large-scale agricultural production in the EU focusing on efficiency (Kunnert: 1993, pp.82/83). Their participation in the pro-EU historic bloc could only be assured through financial restructuring help.

            Although slightly later than the ÖVP, the SPÖ also accepted neo-liberal ideas against the background of economic recession. In the government’s economic report to parliament in 1985, Chancellor Fred Sinowatz (SPÖ) described Keynesianism as a policy of “diving-through”, which could only be used in the short term. A departure from the budget deficit spending of the 1970s was indicated (Seidel: 1993, p.146). From early 1988 onwards, the economic wing around the then Chancellor Franz Vranitzky and Finance Minister Lacina was convinced that membership was necessary to ensure full participation in the Internal Market and some even followed the argument that this would bring about the urgent restructuring of the sheltered sector. Opposition grew, however, within the party, mainly around the issue of neutrality. It was suggested that Austria should at least wait until it was clear whether the EU would proceed towards a CFSP, which undermined Austrian neutrality (Interview No.6, Vienna, 08/05/1996). In view of this opposition, Vranitzky waited until the official report by the international law office in the Foreign Ministry in November 1988 had declared that membership and neutrality were compatible (Völkerrechtsbüro: 1988), before he clearly spoke out in favour of membership. On 3 April 1989, the national committee of the SPÖ voted in favour of application with a majority of 50 to 4. The road to application was clear, which followed on 1 July 1989.

            There had been opposition to membership. Both labour and capital related to the sheltered production sectors opposed membership. This included mainly the food processing industry, customs’ officials, transport companies and the agricultural sector, where not everybody followed the direction of the political elite of the Chamber of Agriculture. Some of the employers and employees in these sectors worked together in individual instances and tried to influence their respective Chamber. They raised their voices of opposition whenever they could, but were eventually outnumbered (Interview No.3; Vienna, 23/05/1995). Furthermore, the Green Party, representing progressive forces against neo-liberalism, accused in their manifesto on Europe in February 1989 the Internal Market programme of merely aiming at economic-industrial expansion. Its liberalisation drive would not only make reforms in environmental and social standards impossible, but put already achieved standards under threat without solving the problem of unemployment. Instead of applying to the EU, Austria should combine a strategy of international co-operation having the goal of an improved environment, social justice, democratic renewal and international peace with reforms at the national level (GA: 1989). In 1988, first publications appeared, which criticised the argument that membership was a natural necessity and pointed to alternative strategies. Althaler et al, for example, regretted the one-sided orientation towards EU membership and pointed to a range of different options such a s a further development of the 1972 free trade agreements between Austrian and the EU or association with the EU instead of membership, which would promise similar economic gains (Althaler et al: 1988, pp.44/45). Overall, however, neither the criticism of the neo-liberal economics of EU membership nor the alternatives to accession were accepted by a wider audience. They seemed to lack “common sense” in an ideological environment, in which neo-liberalism had become a part of the overall structure.

            The opposition was not helped by the turn-around of the right-wing Austrian Freedom Party (FPÖ) in 1992/1993. After initially supporting membership, the party under the charismatic leadership of its chairman Jörg Haider opposed the EU, since membership would imply the loss of sovereignty and an unwanted multi-cultural European society (FPÖ: 1993, pp.2/3). During the referendum campaign, the FPÖ’s strategy had a nationalist character concentrating on “Austria first” slogans and including anti-foreigner arguments. It united all the nationalist, xenophobic forces and was, thus, diametrically opposed to the Green Party and its progressive, internationalist outlook. A coherent hegemonic project for a historic bloc against membership could not be formed due to this difference in ideology. Rather than concentrating on its campaign against the EU, the Green Party frequently had to distance itself against the FPÖ campaign, which superficially appeared to be on the same side (Interview No.5; Vienna, 02/05/1996). In the end, the yes-group won in the referendum on EU membership on 12 June 1994 with a clear majority of 66.6 per cent to 33.4 per cent.[2]  

In contrast to Austria, the main struggle between social forces about membership took place after the decision of the SAP government in October 1990 to apply to the EU. Although a new approach was developed to ensure Swedish participation in the Internal market, the SAP government had repeatedly made it clear that membership was not an option. “The Government’s position, as in the past, is that membership is not compatible with our policy of neutrality” (Gradin: 1987, p.301). The SAP’s hegemonic position within the Swedish system, based on its electoral strength of 40 per cent or more since the 1930s except for 1991 (Petersson: 1994, p.226) and, more importantly, its organisational strength due to its close links with trade unions and other mass organisations, its long tradition of programmatic renewal and the capacity to interpret ad hoc measures of the past as a part of a grand strategy (Heclo/Madsen: 1987, pp.23-45), implied that the SAP had to give the start signal.

            Although capital did not pursue a political strategy towards membership, it did not remain inactive either. Swedish TNCs realised that they must be part of the Internal Market due to possible discriminations and in order to be geographically closer to the consumers of their products. As outlined above, there had been a drastic increase in outward FDI between 1985 and 1990. This increase went predominantly to the EU. Whereas between 1982 and 1985 only 29.9 per cent of outward FDI went to EU countries, the average share between 1988 and 1990 had risen to 62.1 per cent (EFTA: 1991, p.27). The increased investment abroad did not complement but substitute expansion at home and, therefore, indicated a shift of production units to the EU (Andersson et al: 1996, pp.126-135). While there were other factors for the increased Swedish FDI in the EU , there is a strong indication that “a major cause for this shift was uncertainty about a future Swedish Union membership and a fear of Fortress Europe ...” (Braunerhjelm/Oxelheim: 1996, p.114). 

            The transfer of production units had a significant impact on the SAP government. The exact timing of the announcement in parliament on 26 October 1996 was due to renewed pressure on the SKr and the rumours about an imminent currency devaluation in mid-October (Interview No.9; Stockholm, 15/11/1996; Interview No.12; Stockholm, 26/11/1996). The longer-term reasons for application were, however, the ongoing capital flight of Swedish TNCs to the EU, rising unemployment and the government’s concomitant loss of economic credibility (Interview No.8; Stockholm, 12/11/1996).

            Trade unions had generally been surprised by the SAP decision. After the announcement in parliament, a union internal discussion started. On the one hand, against the background of globalisation, the peak organisations LO, the blue-collar workers union, and the TCO, the white-collar workers union, supported the quest for membership. They argued that Sweden had to deregulate its economy in any case due to globalisation. Co-operation at the European level offered a way to regain some control over capital lost at the national level (Interview No.7; Stockholm, 11/11/1996; Interview No.10; Stockholm, 21/11/1996). Within the unions, however, there was a split between transnational, industrial unions and unions in export-oriented sectors in favour of membership and national unions opposing it. In particular the LO-affiliates, the Paper Workers’ Union and the Metal Workers’ Union, supported EU membership. Both sectors were heavily export dependent, the paper sector exports about 80 per cent of its products, the engineering sector more than 50 per cent, and the engineering sector is also characterised by some of Sweden’s most important TNCs such as Volvo, Ericsson and Electrolux. Thus, considering that the Swedish TNCs had already established themselves on the Internal Market, it was economically impossible to remain outside the EU (Interview No.13; Stockholm, 29/11/1996). On the other hand, national sector unions such as the LO-affiliates the Municipal Workers’ Union and the Commercial Workers’ Union spoke out against membership. The jobs, in particular in the public sector, did not depend on exports or on transnational production and the pressures of globalisation hardly played a role. Rather, it was feared that future decision taken in Brussels would undermine important Swedish policies. For example the possible harmonisation of tax systems within the EU could lead to cut-backs in the public sector and, therefore, job losses. In short, the Swedish system with its generous welfare provisions and policy of full employment was regarded as being endangered by accession to the neo-liberal EU (Interview No.11; Stockholm, 26/11/1996).[3]

            This split of the labour movement was also expressed in the referendum campaign. On the one hand, transnational labour co-operated with the SAP-internal yes-group and formed one of three pro-membership campaign groups. ‘Yes to Europe’, a second group, was formed by capital and the conservative Moderate Party and the Liberal Party, whereas some well-known public figures and pro-EU members of the Centre Party and the Federation of Swedish Farmers set up the ‘Network for Europe’. On the other hand, the LO-unions against membership and trade unionists from the TCO were part of the ‘No to the EU’ platform, which comprised all groups in opposition to EU membership including the SAP and Centre Party no-groups and the forces represented by the Green Party and Left Party (Interview  No.8; Europe Co-ordinator, SAP; Stockholm, 12/11/1996).

            The referendum result on 13 November 1994 was very close. 52.7 per cent voted “yes” versus 47.3 per cent “no”, after the no-side had led from spring 92 to shortly before the referendum (Luif: 1996, p.214). There are several reasons for the success of the yes-side. Firstly, the material capabilities of the yes-side based on industrial sources were significantly larger than the ones of the no-side. An academic investigation found out that the ratio was about 20 to 1 in favour of the yes-side. Moreover, although there were separate campaign groups, this did not hinder the SAP-LO group to accept money from business (Interview No.14; Stockholm, 04/12/1996). The material superiority was underlined by the direct threat of transnational capital to transfer production units to the EU in case of non-membership (Fioretos: 1997, p.315). The financial markets also lent their structural support. “When the publication of a poll on 6 November 1994 showed the ‘no’ side again gaining ground, interest rates went up in Sweden” (Luif: 1996, p.321). As a result, home owners feared that they would have to pay higher interest rates outside the EU. Secondly, the no-side was predominantly united by their rejection of membership. Nevertheless, the reasons behind the rejection differed. While national labour and the Green and Left Parties opposed the neo-liberal economic policies of the EU, the no-group of the Centre Party considered the neo-liberal convergence criteria of EMU and their focus on inflation instead of unemployment to be the necessary basis for a sound Swedish economy. This ideological difference precluded the formation of a historic bloc with a successful hegemonic project against membership.


d) Summary of Austria’s and Sweden’s accession to the EU:

In Austria, a historic bloc in favour of application and membership was firmly established by June 1989. The hegemonic project, devised by organic intellectuals of internationally-oriented capital located in the VÖI, was based on economic neo-liberalism and the idea that neutrality was compatible with membership. It provided the basis for an alliance of internationally-oriented capital and labour, which gained control of the two governing parties and the social partners. Similarly, in Sweden, transnational social forces of capital and labour demanded a closer relationship with the EU and Internal Market initiative. Nevertheless, it was the SAP’s decision that membership was incompatible with neutrality, which prevented any debate on membership between 1987 and 1990. This hegemony was expressed in the SAP’s predominant position in parliament, its leading role in defining the public discourse, but also in the acceptance by the opposition parties and employers’ associations that it was the SAP, which ultimately determined whether membership was possible. When the SAP eventually decided on application in October 1990, there had been neither time nor effort to form an alliance of social forces. Of course, the representatives of transnational capital immediately supported the move, but there had been no discussions within the labour movement be that within the SAP or the various trade unions. The real struggle was still to come.

            Another significant difference was the lack of an institution in Sweden, similar to the Austrian VÖI, which provided the platform for “organic intellectuals” to form a pro-membership bloc. The reason, here too, must at least partly be sought in the SAP’s hegemonic position. It was difficult to mount a challenge to the predominant view that membership was incompatible with neutrality. Nevertheless, this does not suffice as an explanation. The Swedish production structure provides an additional explanation, why this did not happen. In contrast to Austria, dominated by small- and medium-sized firms, Sweden had been characterised by large TNCs. The structural pressures of globalisation were, consequently, much stronger in Sweden. The TNCs simply did not have to bother with mounting a political challenge to the SAP’s anti-membership course. They had the structural option to transfer investment and production units to the EU and, thereby, counter possible threats of exclusion. The deregulation of the financial markets from 1985 onwards and the abolition of exchange controls in 1989 had removed the last barriers against this strategy. Eventually, this was one of the major reasons why the SAP decided on application. The flight of capital was no longer sustainable. Austrian internationally-oriented capital, on the other hand, did not have this option at its disposal due to its domestic production structure. A carefully prepared and carried out political strategy was, therefore, the only possibility to achieve application.

            Overall, this short analysis of the processes leading to Austria’s and Sweden’s accession to the EU demonstrates how neo-Gramscianism can remedy the shortcomings of the traditional approaches of European integration. Firstly, the emphasis on class struggle avoids any notion of historically inevitable developments. Accession was at no point a foregone, structurally determined conclusion. Secondly, by identifying the main actors through an analysis of the production structure, the impact of globalisation can be accounted for. The much higher degree of transnationalisation of production in Sweden was responsible for a different approach by capital, relying more on its structural power than lobbying power. By the same token, TNCs and their role at the international level could be accounted for. Their possibility to transfer production units and, thus, to force governments towards its own policies was in particular apparent in Sweden. Finally, it was shown how neo-Gramscianism could account for the independent role of ideas. The fact that the VÖI’s hegemonic project reflected the neo-liberal intersubjective meanings of the structure made it almost impossible for opposing forces to formulate an alternative with a chance of a wider acceptance. Overall, while neo-Gramscianism may not be the only possible alternative to traditional approaches of European integration, it does represent a viable one.


3. Some remarks on Finland’s acceptance and Norway’s rejection of EU membership:

This is not the place to provide a detailed analysis of Finnish membership and Norwegian rejection. Nevertheless, some examples may show that a neo-Gramscian analysis may prove useful in these cases, too.

            The collapse of the Soviet Union gave Finland new room for manoeuvre in its foreign policy. However, the special relations with the Soviet Union had also had positive effects for Finland. “In 1989, the USSR’s share of total Finnish export amounted to 14.5 per cent. Finland was the USSR’s second largest western trading partner” (Miles: 1994, p.65). This had helped Finland to cope with the economic recessions of the 1970s in the West. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, “Finland went into deep recession, with a decline in GDP of 8 per cent; industrial output fell by 6.5 per cent in real terms in 1991 …; GDP fell by 14 per cent from 1990 and 1993” (Miles: 1994, p.71). In short, while the end of the Cold War brought Finland freedom in its foreign policy, it also implied that the country had to look for new trading partners and the EU was an obvious candidate. This structural logic should not, however, be interpreted in structural, deterministic ways as, for example, by Miles who argues that “Finnish membership of the EU does seem inevitable, given economic trends” (Miles: 1994, p.84). Similarly to Austria and Sweden, there were clearly supporters and opponents of EU membership. On the one hand, the leading role in the pro-EC camp was played by big business. It “contended that economic necessity was the mother of accession. The forest industry, 80 per cent of whose exports went to the EU, well illustrates the point (Arter: 1997, p.130). Exclusion from the EU would threaten the whole economy and, thus, the welfare state based on it. “Second, EU membership would mean the final abolition of the ‘Finland-added tax’, so to speak, in that it would reduce the perceived politico-economic risk for outside investors” (Arter: 1997, p.130). This political strategy was supported via FDI. “Business leaders realised that in order to survive in international markets, they had to establish their companies in the European market. From 1985 to 1990, Finnish net investments grew sixfold from 2.18 to 12.47 billion FM” (Miles: 1994, p.4). On the other hand, the agricultural producers’ organisation, i.e. nationally-oriented capital, and farmers opposed membership (Arter: 1997, p.130). Finnish agriculture is characterised by small farms, low yields due to the adverse climate and above the CAP subsidy levels. Membership, it was argued, would imply the destruction of Finnish agriculture (Arter: 1997, p.131). In short, a clear split between nationally- and internationally-oriented capital can be identified in Finland.

            The Norwegian production structure serves as a good starting-point to identify the lines of divisions in the EU debate. Norway is much richer in several natural resources including fish, hydroelectricity, minerals, forests and above all North Sea oil. “Concern for the primary industries is among the major reasons why … Norway [has] found it difficult to accept the full acquis of the EU” (Kristinsson: 1994, p.89). The control of fish stock had been a crucial point in the negotiations. In the end, “Norwegian negotiators had decided to exchange ultimate control over its offshore fisheries - plus some tonnes of cod - for greater access to the EU’s lucrative market” (Archer: 1997, p.153). This did not, however, convince the fishers and trade union in this sector, “partly because foreign firms might try to get a foothold in the domestic fisheries industry at the expense of the locals, and partly because the revision of the CFP, scheduled to finish by 2002, may be less advantageous than the present system” (Kristinsson: 1994, p.99). In short, although export-oriented, the fact that the fishery sector had been nationally protected made its members reject accession to the EU. The energy sector and here particularly the oil production has also been characterised by heavy state intervention. The sector overwhelmingly rejected membership, because “the emergence of a common energy policy and competition rules prohibiting national discrimination could make it difficult for … Norway to maintain the present level of state involvement …” (Kristinsson: 1994, p.100). Of course, the special status of the sector’s product made it also less dependent on EU membership. The price of, and trade in, oil is determined at the world level, independent from EU policy. Finally, farmers of the highly subsidised agricultural sector and many female employees of the public sector, seeing the EU as a threat to the welfare state and public sector employment, also opposed membership (Archer: 1997, pp.157 and 159/160). Overall, it was the fear of losing state protection and thus the possibility of compensation against international market pressures, which made these sectors reject the EU. While the pro-EU social forces won in Finland, the resistance of the protected sectors proved to be too strong in Norway. 


4. The question of future enlargements to Central and Eastern Europe:

When looking at the possible EU enlargements towards Central and Eastern Europe, one cannot avoid acknowledging the enormity of the task. So far, Hungary (March 1994), Poland (April 1994); Romania (June 1995), Slovakia (June 1995), Estonia (November 1995), Latvia (October 1995), Lithuania (December 1995), Bulgaria (December 1995), the Czech Republic (January 1996), and Slovenia (June 1996) have applied. If one adds the Maltese and Cypriot applications of July 1990, the EU could grow within the next ten to twenty years from 15 to 27 member states.

            The most important difference to previous enlargements is the relatively poor situation of the CEE-10. “In absorbing all ten countries, the EU would add 28% to its population but only 4% to its GDP, and average per capital GDP in the CEE-10 is only one-third of the average EU level” (Grabbe/Hughes: 1998, p.90). This makes the analysis of the possible future enlargement very different from the investigation of the 1995 enlargement. In the latter case, the EU could be considered to be overwhelmingly in favour of the accession of the EFTA countries, and if it was only for the reason that they were going to be net contributors to the budget. There were doubts in some quarters about the applicants’ willingness to participate in the CFSP because of their neutral status. These became, however, soon secondary, since the EU members themselves were not prepared to move towards a common defence policy and the integration of the WEU into the EU set-up. In short, the EU dimension could be held constant. In the case of the CEE-10, the willingness of all EU member states to welcome them is anything but assured. In the following, the crucial problems will be outlined.

            The EU budget is the first area of concern. Clearly, the economic backwardness of the CEE-10 would require enormous amounts of developing aid in order to achieve economic convergence. The EU members have, however, no intention to increase the size of the EU budget beyond the 1.27 per cent of EU GNP. According to the Commission’s budget proposal, part of its Agenda 2000, “the new acceding members will not in the initial years get the same levels of support as the old members” (Grabbe/Hughes: 1998, p.93). In 2006, the ten applicants will only account for 16 per cent of the EU budget.

            Agriculture, which is especially important for employment in Poland and Romania, is another problematic area. On the one hand, prices are only between 40  and 80 per cent of EU levels due to lower levels of subsidies than in the EU under the CAP regime. On the other hand, the quality and productivity of agriculture in the CEE-10 are lower than in the EU and, with the exception of Hungary, all are net food importers from the EU. It is difficult to calculate the costs of extending the CAP to the new members, but “the overall range seems to be an increase of 30%-50% over the cost of the current CAP for the EU-15” (Grabbe/Hughes: 1998, p.97).

            The structural and regional funds were introduced in the EU to help disadvantaged and backward countries and regions to catch up with the rest. Currently, “Objective 1, which accounts for 70% of the total funds, goes only to regions where GDP per head is below 75% of the EU average. Eligibility for the Cohesion Fund is restricted to member states with a per capita GDP of less than 90% of the EU average” (Grabbe/Hughes: 1998, pp.99/100). Accession of the CEE-10 would lower the GDP per head in the EU by 16 per cent and, thus, imply that current recipients may become net contributors. It is unlikely that Spain, Greece, Portugal and Ireland will accept such an extension of the funds to the new members. The Commission has drawn up new proposals, which would ensure that the bulk of the money will still go to the present EU members, but while this may pacify the current recipients, it remains unclear how the new members will ever be able to catch up with the rest.

            The possibility of 12 new members also puts a lot of pressure on institutional reform. “At the very least, the [Amsterdam Treaty] was expected to introduce more qualified majority voting (QMV) in a number of areas, to come to some agreement on limiting the number of Commissioners, to agree a reweighting of votes toward the larger member states, and to limit the future size of the European Parliament. In the event, apart from agreement on a limit on seats in the Parliament, this did not happen” (Grabbe/Hughes: 1998, pp.103/104). It was only further agreed that there should be a comprehensive institutional review one year before the number of EU members exceeds 20.

            So far, everything indicates that the EU wants to use the “classical Community method” (Preston: 1995) for the enlargement towards Central and Eastern Europe. This implies, most importantly, that the applicants have to accept the acquis communautaire in full, accession is managed by limited transitional periods, and the Community’s institutional structure is adapted to the new situation in an incremental way. In short, a fundamental restructuring of the EU itself, as desirable this may be in many areas, seems to be unlikely, even in view of future enlargements. “The pressures of incrementalism are formidable. Over nearly forty years it has proved impossible to recast fundamentally the shape of the EC as defined in the 1957 Treaty of Rome” (Preston: 1997, p.22). At Amsterdam, in particular France and Germany demanded a flexibility clause, allowing those members, who want to go ahead with deepening integration, to do so, while leaving new members time and space for adjustment. In the end, only a weak version was agreed upon due to the perceived dangers to the EU and its institutions. Nevertheless, enlargement may lead to flexibility in any case. The increasing numbers and diversity of members may make the existing decision-making structures ineffective. Together with the application of transitionary periods for the full adoption of the acquis communautaire, likely to be very long in many instances due to the backwardness of the applicants, this may lead to a multi-tier EU in practice. “The danger is that, given the lack of a strategic overview for enlargement, an enlarged EU might not be able to function effectively if flexibility emerges as a result of piecemeal reform” (Grabbe/Hughes: 1998, p.108).

            In July 1997, the Commission published its Avis on the CEE-10 and recommended that negotiations should start with the five most advanced countries, i.e. Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic, Estonia and Slovenia (Grabbe/Hughes: 1998, p.42). The first new members may join some time between 2002 and 2006, with 2006 being the more realistic date, if at all (Grabbe/Hughes: 1998, p.69).

            Where does this leave neo-Gramscianism? So far, the investigations of the CEE-10 countries and their quest for EU membership was very state-centric. In other words, the general assumption has been made that these countries are solidly in favour of membership. Nevertheless, closer to the time of accession, when the negative consequences for some production sectors in the CEE-10 become clearer, opposition is likely to emerge. Neo-Gramscianism could be used as an analytical framework for the analysis of the intra-country struggles about membership. The fact that it is not a positivist social science theory, trying to identify causal relationships in an objective world, makes this possible.




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1. Section for National Economy, Österreichischer Gewerkschaftsbund (Austrian Federation of Trade Unions, ÖGB); Vienna, 4.30 p.m., 12/05/1995.


2. Director of the Europe Information Service, Vereinigung Österreichischer Industrieller (Federation of Austrian Industrialists, VÖI); Vienna, 9 a.m., 22/05/1995.


3. Board of Directors, AgrarMarkt Austria (regulatory institution for the agricultural market, 1993-1995), Director of the Economic-Political Section of the Arbeiterkammer (Chamber of Labour, AK) (1985-1993); Vienna, 9 a.m., 23/05/1995.


4. Section International Trade and Environment, Association of the Austrian Textile Industry; Vienna, 3 p.m., 24/04/1996.


5. Political Advisor on Europe in the Grüne Alternative fraction of the Nationalrat/Europe - Co-ordinator of the Grüne Alternative (Green Alternative Party, GA); Vienna, 11.30 a.m., 02/05/1996.


6. State-Secretary for Integration and Development Co-operation in the Chancellor’s Office, responsible together with Dr. Mock for the accession negotiations (1993 - 1994), State-Secretary for European Affairs in the Chancellor’s Office (1994 - 1995), Managing-Director of the SPÖ (since 1995); Vienna, 1 p.m., 08/05/1996.


7. International Secretary, Tjänstemännens Centralorganisation (Swedish Confederation of Professional Employees, TCO); Stockholm, 11 a.m., 11/11/1996.


8. Europe - Co-ordinator, Socialdemokratiska Arbetarepartiet (Swedish Social Democratic Party, SAP); Stockholm, 11 a.m., 12/11/1996. 


9. Political Advisor, Prime Minister’s Office (since 1995), Journalist for the Swedish National Broadcasting 1981-94, based in Brussels 1989-93, Political Advisor to Mats Hellström, Minister for Foreign Trade and European Affairs (1995/96); Stockholm, 1 p.m., 15/11/1996. 


10. International Department, Landsorganisationen i Sverige (Swedish Trade Union Confederation, LO); Stockholm, 10 a.m., 21/11/1996.


11. International Secretary, Kommunalarbetare Förbundet (Municipal Workers’ Union, LO affiliate), member of the LO Committee on the EC; Stockholm, 1 p.m., 26/11/1996.


12. President of the Swedish Trade Council, high civil servant under SAP government (1987-91), Chief Negotiator of EEA (1989-92), Chief Negotiator of EC accession treaty (1993/94), Minister for Trade and European Affairs (1991-94); Stockholm, 5 p.m., 26/11/1996.


13. EU - Co-ordinator, Research Department, Metallindustriarbetareförbundet (Metal Workers’ Union, LO affiliate); Stockholm, 9 a.m., 29/11/1996.


14. Political Scientist, Department of Political Science, University of Stockholm; Stockholm, 4 p.m., 04/12/1996.


[1] In a speech to the European Parliament in January 1989, Delors spoke about the possibilities of a closer relationship between the EC and the European Free Trade Area countries, which allowed the latter to participate in the four freedoms of the Internal Market without becoming members of the EC. This led to the EEA, signed in May 1992 and coming into force on 1 January 1994.

[2] For a detailed analysis of the process leading to the Austrian application to the EU, see Bieler: 1998b.

[3] For a detailed analysis of the Swedish trade unions’ positions on EU membership, see Bieler: 1999.

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