Since its origins in the immediate post-World War II period, the EU has experienced changes of both an evolutionary and transformative nature. Scholars have proposed a variety of historical narratives to make sense of these changes and, as we shall see, these narratives in turn can be related to theories of integration. Precisely because of this, historical narratives – and the theories to which they are linked – are never straightforward, neutral, or objective. This is because it is never entirely clear which events and facts are more important than others. In the words of the distinguished historian and international relations scholar E.H. Carr, ‘When we attempt to answer the question, what is history?, our answer, consciously or unconsciously, reflects our own position in time, and forms part of our answer to the broader question, what view we take of the society in which we live’ (1961: p. 5). Hence, even though historians have a moral and intellectual obligation to seek the truth, their narratives cannot but reflect different judgements or their ‘view’ of society. History can always be written from a variety of perspectives, and different perspectives illuminate different aspects or ‘facts’ of history. The history of the EU illustrates this point. The first part of this chapter introduces three narratives of the EU: widening, deepening, and interstate bargaining. By juxtaposing them, it is possible to highlight what each reveals and conceals. Moreover, because the narratives of deepening and interstate bargaining correspond to the traditional theoretical perspectives on European integration, we also begin to introduce in this part the mainstream theories of the EU.
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