By Griffin W. Huschke, Mayme and Herb Frank Research Fellow
Ok, I thought we were going to get out of this unscathed, but its reaching a critical mass, we really can’t ignore it anymore. Unfortunately, we’re not talking about the protests in Syria, which the transatlantic community hasn’t done much about because, according to UK Defence Minister Liam Fox, “There are limitations to what we can do.” No, we’re talking about the omnipresent, deathless, semi-sentient God-head of news coverage that is the royal wedding of Prince William to Kate Middleton.
Indeed, the stateside news coverage of the noble nuptials has been so inescapably asphyxiating it must say something about the state of transatlantic affairs. Looking at the two love-birds, it’s pretty easy to discern their opinions of European integration, and even though they may be on different sides of the debate, “the heart loves who it loves.” (Editor’s note: none of this is actually real, but neither are commentators about hats, so all’s fair in Royal Wedding coverage.)
You can tell just by looking at Kate Middleton that she certainly identifies with the “neo-funcationalist” school of explaining European integration. Neo-functionalists argue that if you created a common institution between two countries, like, hypothetically, a common coal and steel community, the effects of that cooperation would “spill-over” into other areas, like fiscal policy. The more areas of cooperation, the more integration would spill over into other areas. This would continue to increase the spill over until the proverbial snowball of supranational integration was hurtling down the mountain.
Of course, Prince William, born with the top-down sensibilities of a monarch (let them eat cake, indeed!), would never support such assertions. He most certainly identifies with Jurgen Habermas, who was the granddaddy of studying how and why countries in Europe started cooperating together after those couple of millennia of internecine warfare. Habermas, (as certainly as Prince William does) didn’t believe that the slow march of international institutions was necessary at all. Instead, Habermas argued that people would lose ties to their nation if they were given a supranational identity, like a constitution. A supranational organization, Habermas argued, could be created if there was a supranational constitution that gave citizens something to believe in. This construction would give disparate people without a common ethnicity or culture, a common symbol of unity.
In the end, neither Kate’s neo-functionalists nor the Prince’s explain the last few years of European integration, especially the “period of reflection” since the Maastricht treaty’s tepid reception by European publics. While such deep disagreements would certainly tear a lesser couple apart, here at the Streit Coucil we wish them all the best.