Contemporary political science assumes that 'institutions matter'. But the governing institutions of the European Union are widely presumed to matter more than most. A commonplace assumption about the EU is that those working within European institutions are subject to a pervasive tendency to become socialised into progressively more pro-integration attitudes and behaviours. This assumption has been integral to many accounts of European integration, and is also central to how scholars study individual EU institutions. However, the theoretical and empirical adequacy of this assumption has never been properly investigated. This study examines this question in the context of an increasingly important EU institution, the European Parliament. The book integrates new theoretical arguments with a substantial amount of original empirical research. It develops a coherent understanding, based on simple rationalist principles, of when and why institutional socialisation is effective. This theoretical argument explains the main empirical findings of the book. Drawing on several sources of evidence on MEPs' attitudes and behaviour, and deploying advanced empirical techniques, the empirical analysis shows the commonplace assumption about EU institutions to be false. European Parliamentarians do not become more pro-integration as they are socialised into the institution. The findings of the study generate some highly important conclusions. They indicate that institutional socialisation of political elites should be given a much more limited and conditional role in understanding European integration than it is accorded in many accounts. They suggest that MEPs remain largely national politicians in their attitudes, loyalties and much of their activities, and that traditional classifications of the European Parliament as a 'supra-national' institution are misleading. Finally, the study offers broader lessons about the circumstances in which institutions effectively socialise those working within them.
Scopus Subject Areas
- Social Sciences(all)
- European parliament
- European union
- Integration theory rationalism