ABSTRACT |The crises that weigh heavily on the European Union (EU) in the 2010s have underlined the continued importance of integration theory, albeit in ways that go beyond classic debates. Postfunctionalism, in particular, has shown how European integration and its problems stand on shifting political cleavages. And yet, postfunctionalist claims that such changes would create a constraining dissensus in the EU rests uneasily with the intensification of European integration since the Maastricht Treaty was signed. This article offers a new intergovernmentalist explanation of this puzzle, which shows how mainstream governing parties have circumvented rather than being constrained by Eurosceptic challenger parties and challenger governments. The result, it contends, is not a constraining but a destructive dissensus that adds to the EU’s political disequilibrium. Understanding the persistence of this disequilibrium and its potential to unwind disruptively is a key challenge for contemporary integration theory.
UWE PUETTER | Uwe Puetter joined Europa-Universität Flensburg (EUF) in 2019. He holds the newly created Professorship for Empirical Research on Europe (Empirische Europaforschung). Prior to this he was Professor of European Public Policy and Governance at the Central European University (CEU) in Budapest, where he had taught since 2004. He also teaches at the College of Europe in Bruges. Uwe Puetter’s research and teaching focuses on European Union (EU) politics and policy-making. He is a leading expert on the European Council and the Council and EU institutional change. His most recent research focuses on contemporary challenges to European integration.