The construction of the European Community (EC) has widely been
understood as the product of either economic self-interest or
dissatisfaction with the nation-state system. In Europe
United, Sebastian Rosato challenges these conventional
explanations, arguing that the Community came into being because of
balance of power concerns. France and the Federal Republic of
Germany-the two key protagonists in the story-established the EC at
the height of the cold war as a means to balance against the Soviet
Union and one another.
More generally, Rosato argues that international institutions,
whether military or economic, largely reflect the balance of power.
In his view, states establish institutions in order to maintain or
increase their share of world power, and the shape of those
institutions reflects the wishes of their most powerful members.
Rosato applies this balance of power theory of cooperation to
several other cooperative ventures since 1789, including various
alliances and trade pacts, the unifications of Italy and Germany,
and the founding of the United States. Rosato concludes by arguing
that the demise of the Soviet Union has deprived the EC of its
fundamental purpose. As a result, further moves toward political
and military integration are improbable, and the economic community
is likely to unravel to the point where it becomes a shadow of its
Subjects: Political Science
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