Exploring the toolkit of European Union integration theory: What role for comparative federalism?

David Benson, Andrew Jordan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


More and more scholars are revisiting federal theories in an attempt to explain the functioning of the EU. Yet in-depth empirical testing of their claims remains surprisingly limited. Cooperative federalism represents one particularly promising variant of federal theory in this respect. This article extends and refines existing claims about its utility to show how EU policy-making can be fruitfully conceived of as a multi-level 'cooperative game' played out between different actor coalitions. It then uses these arguments to analyse task allocation — a critical indicator of the European integration process — within the environmental sector. Drawing on fresh empirical evidence, it demonstrates how differential patterns of task allocation have emerged from a series of interlinked 'cooperative' dynamics, which were in turn shaped by broader federal structures. Although greater testing and development is needed, it concludes that there are good reasons to add cooperative federalism to the evolving 'tool-kit' of EU integration theory.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-17
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of European Integration - Revue d'Integration Europeanne
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2011

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