The manifold crises of the EU have not only put pressures on policymakers but also present a challenge to theories of European integration, which explain the dynamics of integration and suggest how and under what conditions integration progresses, stagnates, or recedes. Such theories should therefore be able to tell us about the causes and effects of crises in integration, on the basis of general, abstract conditions and mechanisms of integration. For the purpose of this chapter, a crisis in European integration means a decision-making situation with a manifest threat and a perceived significant probability of disintegration (see Chapter 17). Disintegration means a reduction in the existing level, scope, and membership of integration (Leuffen et al., 2013: 8). In other words, a crisis in integration threatens to reduce the extent of pooling and delegation, repatriate EU policy competences, or lead to the exit of states from the EU or one of its integrated policies. This definition fits many aspects of the current EU crisis, including the eurozone crisis, the Ukraine crisis, the Brexit crisis, and the migration crisis. Whereas the eurozone and the migration crises are multi-dimensional (potentially impacting on the level, scope, and membership of integration), the Ukraine and Brexit crises primarily just affect the (differentiated) territorial borders of European integration. All of the crises are open-ended: they may result in disintegration but also lead to a reassertion of the status quo or to more integration.
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- Theorising Crisis in European Integration
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- Chapter 16