Since the beginning of the European integration process in the 1950s, scholars have debated the causes and future development of such institutional innovations as the relative autonomy of the European Commission, the development of the European Parliament, and the evolution of EU law through the actions of the European Court of Justice (ECJ). Certain key events or milestones contributed to the focus on European-level developments, from the 1966 ‘empty chair’ political crisis, to the re-launch of the integration process in 1986 with the Single European Act (SEA), to the dramatic halt to institutional ‘deepening’ as a result of the French and Dutch referendums on the EU Constitutional Treaty in 2005. Throughout most of this period, scholarly, professional and even public attention, whatever the motivation, sought to explain as well as react to the emergence of this unprecedented level of supranational governance. However, from the mid-1990s, attention slowly began to focus on an as yet unexplored dimension of European integration, namely the member states themselves.
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