This article looks at forest policy as empirical case study of European integration. By applying different theoretical lenses of European integration approaches (neo-functionalism, liberal intergovernmentalism, three institutionalist approaches and constructivism), it seeks to explain and understand the integration of forest policy in the European Union during the policy’s emergence (1958 to 1960s), expansion (1970 to late 1990s) and stabilization period (late 1990s to now). The findings clearly show that, to a certain extent, all European integration theories have their merits for the analysis. However, none of the employed integration theories alone can explain all the relevant aspects of the broader developments in EU forest policy. No individual theory can help explain why forest policy developed only incrementally and why it has been weakly institutionalized. This article, therefore, argues to combine them so as to establish a clearer picture of the driving factors and constraints. As each of the grand theories has its weak spots, it is further argued that scholars of European studies should work across a broader theoretical spectrum as only this would allow light to be shed on blind spots in empirical investigation over longer time periods.
Pülzl, H., Wydra, D., Hogl, K. “Piecemeal Integration: Explaining and Understanding 60 Years of European Union Forest Policy-Making”. Forests 2018, 9(11), 719.