Andra Maria Popa, Ioana Dodi, Oana-Andreea Ion
LESIJ NO. XVIII, VOL. 1/2011
the crisis. Now, the most important objective of the EU is to recover soon and continue with the
reforms. The world has changed, but Europe is still failing to adapt to the new reality around it.
Besides the effort to overcome the crisis, the EU faces a number of other internal and external
challenges (aging population, resource scarcity, climate change, globalization, the spread of new
information and communication technologies, the emergence of new economic powers etc.4)
which are continuously multiplying. In this context, it becomes imperative for the EU to
reconsider its priorities and to review its sources of competitive advantage on global scale.
Europe’s only chance to return as a major player on the international stage depends on all Member
States acting together as a Union. Therefore, the current developments within the EU are an
important testing ground for EU scholars, who can closely analyze the means through which the
integration/convergence of the Member States can be achieved, thus developing an improved
theory of European integration.
This paper is meant to explore the possibility of a (theoretical) up-grade of the theory of
governance: from a middle-range theory to a full theory by adding a neofunctionalist component
that would enhance its explanatory capabilities by projecting them at the systemic level. This
research initiative is based on the belief that the great theories in European integration
(neofunctionalism and intergovernmentalism) aren’t able to explain the current developments of
the EU and that the recent theoretical perspectives on EU governance (multi-level governance and
network governance) aren’t enough to form a comprehensive theory of EU integration (they seem
to lack the prescriptive component). Thus, it calls for a rethinking of the EU integrationist theories
in order to be able to reflect the present reality of the European Union.
The authors of this article believe that the good explanatory capacity of the EU governance
theory, in both of its forms – multi-level governance and network governance, can be improved by
adding a neofunctionalist component of spillover. For proving this assumption, we have chosen to
analyze – as a case study – the flagship initiative "Innovation Union" within the Europe 2020
Strategy. We believe this initiative is the most important of all seven flagship initiatives because it
focuses on innovation, a thing which, in our opinion, must define every EU policy in order for the
EU to develop and to become a significant player on the global stage; thus, the integration of the
research and innovation policies of the Member States can produce a spillover effect on other
The theoretical framework of this paper is represented by the neofunctionalist approach and
the theory of governance; these perspectives on European integration are presented in the light of
the existing specialized literature in the domain and by trying to identify a correlation between
them, in order for a new, more comprehensive EU integration theory to emerge. The methodology
used for this article consists in the study of documents, especially research papers of the main
authors in the field of EU studies or official documents of the EU, such as the Treaty of Lisbon
and other documents that establish the framework and the functioning of the Europe 2020 strategy
and of the Innovation Union flagship initiative.
The analytical approach is structured in three chapters as follows: the first chapter presents
the theoretical framework of the analysis; the second chapter corresponds to the case study and the
third is meant to draw the conclusions of the paper.
4 For more information about the internal and external challenges which the EU has to face at the moment, see
European Commission Communication from the Commission. Europe 2020 – A strategy for smart, sustainable and
inclusive growth, COM (2010) 2020 final, Brussels, 3.03.2010.