Guðmundur Hálfdanarson: European Integration and the Nation States
European integration has its roots in the settlement between France and Germany after the Second World War, and the wish of the French and West-German politicians to avoid further armed conflict between the two nations. From the beginning, those who initiated the integration process did not regard it as a threat to national identities or nation-states in Europe, because they thought that these sentiments and ideas about organizing state authority were too entrenched in the minds of European citizens to be eradicated by their leaders. However, the supranational power of the EU has increased substantially in recent years, in spite of the European leaders’ desire to preserve the sovereignty of nation-states. This has not happened so much because of the explicit desire on the part of European leaders to reduce the authority of nation-states, but rather as the unintended result of increased cooperation. This development seems, therefore, to be an inescapable consequence of tighter integration between European states, but it is also related to globalization and new ideas about state sovereignty. There is no indication, however, that Europe is heading towards one super state; the direction seems rather to be towards new division of sovereignty where a part of it will be exercised at a supranational level, but the greatest part of it will remain inside the borders of the nation-states for the foreseeable future.
Keywords: European integration, European Union, Bologna process, nation-states, sovereignty.