The Treaties of Paris

Berthold Rittberger

in The Oxford Handbook of the European Union

Published in print August 2012 | ISBN: 9780199546282
Published online January 2013 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Politics & International Relations

The Treaties of Paris


Within a period of thirteen months, the heads of state of Italy, France, Germany, and the Benelux countries signed two treaties, the Treaty establishing the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) in April 1951 and the Treaty establishing the European Defence Community (EDC) in May 1952 (known as the Treaties of Paris). This article aims to shed light on four debates or ‘fault lines’ in the literature on the ECSC and EDC treaties. It contrasts ‘materialist’ accounts of preference formation – emphasizing economic and geopolitical conditions – with constructivist accounts of preference formation stressing the subjective interpretations of material conditions. The article discusses the dynamics of interstate bargaining, and the sources of ratification successes and failures. These accounts employ – implicitly or explicitly – a rationalist bargaining approach, but disagree on whether actors' bargaining power is more centrally affected by domestic or systemic sources. Finally, the article turns to a body of literature exploring the question of institutional design. What prompted policymakers to opt for a supranational organization in the cases of the ECSC and the EDC? The fault line in this section pits proponents of functionalist and rationalist explanations for institutional design against constructivism-inspired institutionalist accounts emphasizing the legitimacy-enhancing effects of institutional choices.

Keywords: fault lines; ECSC; EDC; preference formation; materialist account; constructivist account; interstate bargaining; institutional design

Article.  7569 words. 

Subjects: Politics ; European Union

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