Explaning the Amsterdam Treaty

Explaning the Amsterdam Treaty


Explaining and Evaluating the Amsterdam Treaty: Some Concluding Remarks

Finn Laursen

[Chapter from Finn Laursen, ed. The Amsterdam Treaty, Odense University Press, 2002]


The Amsterdam Treaty was yet another treaty in the history of European integration. It was not normal politics; it was constitutive politics (Pedersen 1998, 56). It was yet another big bargain among the EU's Member States, setting some new rules for their cooperation. If we use the categories suggested by John Peterson, the type of decision finalized in Amsterdam in June 1997 was "history-making" and it took place at the super-systemic level. It was not policy-setting or policy-shaping, the more normal day-to-day decisions that take place at the systemic and sub-systemic levels. In the case of a history-making decision, the dominant actors would be the national governments in an Intergovernmental Conference (IGC) and the Heads of State and Government in the European Council. The kind of rationality, according to Peterson, would be political and legalistic, not the kind of technocratic, administrative rationality found at lover levels of decision-making (Peterson 1995).

In this final chapter the editor will suggest some conclusions from the chapters included in this volume and move beyond questions of explanation to briefly discuss how we can evaluate the Treaty of Amsterdam. How significant was it?

Dr. Finn Laursen