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European Integration and Supranational Governance$
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Wayne Sandholtz and Alec Stone Sweet

Print publication date: 1998

Print ISBN-13: 9780198294641

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2004

DOI: 10.1093/0198294646.001.0001

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From Free Trade to Supranational Polity: The European Court and Integration

From Free Trade to Supranational Polity: The European Court and Integration

(p.92) 4 From Free Trade to Supranational Polity: The European Court and Integration
European Integration and Supranational Governance

Alec Stone Sweet

James A. Caporaso

Oxford University Press

Proposes and tests a theory of legal integration as a process by which a supranational legal system has been constructed in Europe, centred on the European Court of Justice. It argues that legal integration has been driven by the emergence and consolidation of specific causal linkages between three factors: transnational exchange, triadic dispute resolution, and the production of legal rules. Once forged, these linkages generate a self‐sustaining dynamic that serves to expand the scope of supranational governance and to accelerate the institutionalization of existing supranational policy‐making authority at the expense of intergovernmental arrangements. The chapter begins by elaborating the principal‐agent model of delegation that is supported by the intergovernmentalist approach, and provides a theoretic explanation of the process by which bargaining between the principals (national governments) is replaced by decision‐making within the agents (supranational organizations). The application of the theory is tested against two policy domains—the free movement of goods and the provision of social services.

Keywords:   European Court of Justice, European integration, free trade, legal integration, social services

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