The Mechanisms of Institutional Conflict in the European Union: 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

The Mechanisms of Institutional Conflict in the European Union

1st Edition

By Ludvig Norman


184 pages | 7 B/W Illus.

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How institutional conflicts arise in international political orders and the conditions shaping the outcomes of such conflicts has become the object of considerable contemporary focus.

This book considers the dynamics of institutional conflict and institutional change in international organizations, specifically focusing on the European Union, the most highly integrated international political order on the globe. In a world where political decision making increasingly takes place above the nation state level, it theorises the social mechanisms that lead to the point at which these tensions become explicit and the customary functioning of international political orders tips into outright conflict between different organizational entities. Taking a constructivist approach, it examines two in-depth case studies - in the field of Justice and Home Affairs (JHA) and the EU’s Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) - to explain the dynamics of the processes that lead up to institutional conflicts and provide some explanation for their final outcomes.

This text will be of key interest to fields of and European Integration, EU Politics and more broadly International Relations.


"In an era when institutional conflict has seemingly become the norm in EU affairs, this book is a must read. Theoretically, instead of pulling existing work ‘off the shelf,’ Norman develops an innovative constructivist account of the social mechanisms shaping institutional change. Methodologically, he demonstrates how interpretive process tracing can be used to study such dynamics. The result is a book that not only tells us important things about the EU, but also contributes to central debates over theory and method." - Jeffrey T. Checkel, Simon Fraser University, Canada, and Peace Research Institute Oslo, Norway.

"Norman has produced an outstanding reflection on the dynamics of institutional conflict within the EU institutional framework. By linking new theoretical insights derived from international relations constructivism with empirical investigations in highly interesting case studies, the book makes a substantial contribution to our understanding of both the institutional dynamics and the political role of EU institutions. It is highly recommended for anyone interested in European security or European studies more generally." - Christian Kaunert, Professor of International Politics, Director of the European Institute for Security and Justice, University of Dundee, UK.

"This is a conceptually sophisticated, empirically rich, and theoretically meaningful contribution to the study of EU institutional dynamics. It can be read as an innovative constructivist approach at interpretive process tracing, an inductive account of the underexplored influence of EU-level legal services (Council, Commission, EP) in shaping integration discourse, and as a nuanced story of how JHA and CFSP have "communitarized" from humble intergovernmental origins. The impressive research design uses empirical triangulation and engages in alternative explanation testing in ways that few studies actually deliver on, and thus contributes to the growing interest at moving beyond either/or debates between rational institutionalists and constructivists." - Jeffrey Lewis, Cleveland State University, USA

Table of Contents

1. Dynamics of Institutional Conflict in the European Union

2. Institutional Conflict and Change in International Political Orders

3. Explaining Institutional Change: The Role of Interpretive Process Tracing

4. Institutional Conflict in EU Criminal Law

5. Institutional Conflict in the EU’s External Action

6. Explaining institutional conflict: the Rupture Mechanism

7. The Environmental Crimes Case

8. The Small Arms Case

9. Conflict Dynamics: The Discursive Lock-in Mechanism

10. Concluding Remarks

About the Author

Ludvig Norman is Senior Lecturer in the Department of Government, Uppsala University, Sweden.

About the Series

Routledge Studies on Government and the European Union

What is actually governed at the scale of the European Union (EU)? Some domains of societies and economies in Europe certainly seem to be, but the government of many others appears instead to take place at global, national or sub-national scales. The principal objective of this book series is to provide a sustained and structured space within which a cumulative set of books on what the EU actually governs would be published. These will depart from much of mainstream ‘EU studies’ to propose instead social science theory driven analyses that better reflect and reveal the transnational character of government in contemporary Europe.

This series of books will share a common focus and a commitment to detailed, theoretically driven but readable empirical studies. Although authors will differ slightly here, this focus postulates in general that:

  1. Far from being a system composed uniquely of ‘national’ and ‘supranational’ bodies, the government of the EU is enacted by all the public and private practitioners who participate in the construction and institutionalization of ‘European public problems’;
  2. This government is inscribed in a strongly fragmented European polity. However, its fragments –be they sectoral or territorial- seldom map neatly onto the frontiers of the member states;
  3. Integrating this government and polity constitutes a permanent challenge not only for the formulation of European public problems and their treatment (eg. for environmental protection), but also for the legitimation of these processes and the actors they involve (eg. Commission representatives).

The series is edited by Professor Andy Smith, Research Professor at the University of Bordeaux. All proposals for the series should be submitted either to the editor or the publishers.

Learn more…

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