Papers by Finn Laursen

Papers by Finn Laursen
WISC Instanbul 2005: Institutional Requirements: EU, the Amercas and East Asia


This paper discusses the importance of institutions for successful international economic integration comparing the EU with NAFTA and the ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA) as well as some other regional integration schemes. Taking the point of departure in neo-liberal institutionalist theories of international regimes and rational theories of international integration, especially the contributions by Moravcsik and Mattli, the respective institutional designs of EU, NAFTA and AFTA are compared. The question is asked: Can both 'supranational' institutions à la EU and less supranational and more intergovernmental institutions à la NAFTA and AFTA create 'credible' commitments'? The answer seems to be yes for NAFTA but less so for AFTA. A brief comparison with other integration schemes such as APEC suggests that a certain legal formalization is necessary to 'lock-in' liberalization and limit defection. Further, it is noted that the EU has moved much beyond a free trade area (FTA) to create an internal market, an Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) and a number of common policies. These common policies, especially the Structural Funds allow for some redistribution.

Miami 2012: Comparative Regional Integration and credible commitments


In this paper the author will outline some essential characteristics about the EU designed to assure 'credible commitments' and take a look at how other integration schemes, NAFTA and MERCOSUR in particular, have tried to secure 'credible commitments'. The main variables to be discussed include: the degree of completeness of the original contract to start an integration process, the degree of asymmetry among the main participants, the degree of pooling and delegation of authority, and the availability of leadership to overcome collective action problems.

UBC 2007: Europe at beginning of 21st Century

"Europe at the Beginning of the 21st Century:

Opportunities and Challenges"


Finn Laursen

CRC in EU Studies

Director, EU Centre of Excellence

Dalhousie University, Halifax, NS, Canada

Background paper prepared for final keynote speech at conference at UBC, Vancouver, 19 April 2007



Where are we today?

- Increasing functional scope: From coal and steel to EMU and Political Union

- Increasing membership: From 6 to 27

- Improving institutions: More QMV and EP involvement

How did we get there?

- Spill-over and unintended consequences

- Series of rational grand bargains

- Agency: ideas and leaders

Current challenges

- Further enlargements: towards EU-35 and beyond

- Policy reforms: CAP, employment, etc

- Institutional reforms: efficiency and legitimacy

- Political entrepreneurship

Scenarios for the future

- A wider and stronger Union

- A wider, but weaker Union

- A more flexible Union

- A disintegrating Union


Hebrew University Jerusalem 2007: Institutions vs Leadership

"Institutions vs. Leadership: Towards a Theory of Credible Commitments"


Finn Laursen

Canada Research Chair in EU Studies

Director, EU Centre of Excellence

Professor, Department of Political Science

Dalhousie University

Halifax, N.S. B3H 4H6


[Preliminary draft. Comments invited]

Paper prepared for delivery at conference on supranational integration at the Leonard Davis Institute for International Relations, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, 18-20 March, 2007


The paper will discuss the contribution of various IR and integration theories concerning 'credible commitments.' The term was probably first used by neo-liberal institutionalists, especially Robert Keohane, in the late 1980s. In the 1990s Andrew Moravcsik made it a defining element of his three-stage integration theory called liberal intergovernmentalism. According to Moravcsik the particular institutional choice of the European Communities, pooling and delegation of sovereignty, was a deliberate decision by the member states to create 'credible commitments'. During the so-called neo-neo debate within the IR discipline during the 1980s neo-realists had serious doubts about a committing kind of international cooperation. Were such to take place some kind of hegemonic leadership would be required, many argued. Among students of regional integration, Walter Mattli has emphasized the role of leadership as an important supply factor explaining the success of integration, making it more important than what he called 'commitment institutions'. So who are we to believe: does integration require supranational institutions – pooling and delegation – or is leadership more important? This paper tries to give some tentative answers.

Strategies for World Federal Government: Early Debate Revisited

"Strategies for World Federal Government: The Early Debate Revisited"

Finn Laursen

Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

[Preliminary draft]

Paper prepared for delivery at workshop "Present Futures and Future Presents - World State Scenarios for the 21st Century" at Klitgaarden, Skagen, Denmark, 23-25 June, 2010


The World Movement for World Federal Government was formed in Montreux, Switzerland, in 1947. In the following years a wide-ranging debate took place inside this International Non-Governmental Organisation (INGO). Was UN Charter revision necessarily the best approach to world federal government? Or should a more radical approach be chosen, such as the calling of a Peoples' World Convention? How would regional federations fit in with a global federal structure? What contributions could come from World Citizens' movements? Part of the debate also concerned the powers of a future world federal authority. Minimalists wanted these powers limited to security issues; maximalists wanted a world federal government that could also deal with socio-economic issues.

The focus of this paper will be the debates that took place at the annual congresses of the WMWFG from the beginning to the 1953 Congress in Copenhagen, where the UN approach gained the upper hand. It will briefly sketch the developments after the mid 1950s, where for some years World Peace through World Law by Grenville Clark and Louis B. Sohn (Harvard University Press, 1958) dominated the thinking. The paper will also mention the contributions of World Federalist Youth in the 1960s and 1970s, when the author was actively involved. The conclusions will briefly refer to some IR and regional integration literature.

ISA Manzanillo 1997: EU and Greater China

"The EU, the Greater China Area and Globalization:

The Case of the International Trade Regime"



With the assistance of Berenice Lara-Laursen

The Thorkil Kristensen Institute

South Jutland University Centre

Niels Bohrs Vej 9

DK 6700 Esbjerg


From Introduction:

The concept of the Greater China Area is not well defined. In this paper we use it to refer to the PRC (or Mainland China), the ROC (or Taiwan), as well as Hong Kong that returned to Chinese sovereignty in July 1997, and Macao which will return to Chinese sovereignty in 1999. The latter two are already members of the WTO.

The other unit dealt with in this paper is the European Union (EU), which has had a Common Commercial Policy (CCP) for a number of years and which is supposed to have a Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) since the entry into force of the Maastricht Treaty on European Union in 1993. We mention the latter because the question of PRC and ROC accession to the WTO is partly economic and partly political. However, the political question of diplomatic recognition was solved by the member states before the entry into force of the Maastricht Treaty.

The purpose of the paper is to outline the EU commercial policy via-á-vis the PRC and ROC, especially concerning membership of the WTO. Since joining the multilateral trade regime usually involves the negotiation of an accession ticket the EU has had to develop a policy on the controversial issues associated with PRC and ROC membership first of GATT, then WTO.

The issues have to be seen in the context of growing trade between the EU and East-Asia in general, the Greater China Area in particular. The fact that the EU has trade deficits with China and Taiwan - although not with Hong Kong - is part of this context. In the political contest between the PRC and ROC all members states of the EU now have diplomatic relations with the PRC but not with the ROC. The EU has accepted that there is only one China and that the PRC represents that China. There are only informal relations with Taiwan even if Taiwan is an important trading partner of the EU.

Paper prepared for delivery at ISA-AMEI Conference, Manzanillo, Mexico, December 11-13, 1997.

Dr. Finn Laursen