North Atlantic euroscepticism the rejection of EU membership in the Faroe Islands and Greenland / Christian Rebhan.
- Torshavn : Frodskapur, Faroe University Press, 2016.
- Annales Societatis Scientiarum Faeroensis. Supplementum ; 0365-6772 LXVII.
Annales societatis scientiarum Faeroensis. Supplementum, 0365-6772 ; LXVII
230 pages ; 24 cm.
- European Union -- Membership.
Faroe Islands -- Foreign relations -- European Union countries.
Greenland -- Foreign relations -- European Union countries.
European Union countries -- Foreign relations -- Faroe Islands.
European Union countries -- Foreign relations -- Greenland.
European Union countries.
- Faroese and Greenlandic decisions to stay out of – and in the case of Greenland: leave – the EC/EU is better explained by political concerns for sovereignty than by elite economic interests. Thus, the two autonomous territories of the Danish Realm are added to the category entitling the book, North Atlantic euroscepticism, including neighboring sovereign states Iceland and Norway, also self-identified fishing nations. The argument of the book is based on a reading of political debates in parliament and media, supplemented with reports produced by expert committees and other material publicly available at the time of the debates. The book distinguishes seven rounds of debates (three in Greenland, four in the Faroe Islands), and analyzes each to evaluate the core claim of ‘liberal intergovernmentalism’ (LI), identified as the leading theory when it comes to explaining national participation in European integration: that political preference only counts when economic interests^ are weak, diffuse or indeterminate. Five of the seven analyses are found to disprove rather than confirm the expectations received from LI. The most immediate value of the book lies in the meticulous documentation of more than 50 years of debate in the two polities. Rebhan manages to select, paraphrase, and extract core points in such a way that the reader gets a real feeling for what matters to the politicians debating. Not all readers are likely to be equally interested in all periods of both cases. But the chapters on Greenland 1959–1967 and 1971–1972/1973–1985 effectively convey the massive contrast between colonial accept of Danish maternalism and the anticolonial youth rebellion: In 1972, Knud Hertling of the old generation could still warn against the risk that a separate day of referendum in Greenland would impose ‘an insensible burden on the Greenlandic people to decide such an important matter [EC membership] on behalf of Denmark’ (page 104). Meanwhile, Jonathan Mot zfeldt of the new generation lamented how ‘Denmark once again pretended to know what was good for the “poor Greenlander”’ (page 110). In parallel, the chapter on the Faroes since 1989 gives an impression of resigned melancholia in the middle of a ‘European policy deadlock’ (page 137) produced by a micro-nationalism caught in a home rule arrangement in a world of sovereign states: The Faroese prime minister Kaj Leo Johannesen recently summarized the predicament of his own country stuck in the ‘worst agreement’ of all European countries as that of ‘a banana republic’ (page 149). However, to conduct his argument vis-à-vis LI, Rebhan devices an analytical strategy which is not totally convincing in its own terms. Formally, the seven debate rounds are approached; first, with a view to determining the aggregate economic versus political interests of the elite; and second, by ‘process-tracing’ in order to ‘assess whether economic interests were causally linked’ t o policy choices (page 47). Nevertheless, the core of the empirical material engaged in both readings remains the same: public statements accessed via parliamentary records and newspapers – neither interviews nor closed archives are employed to document underlying interests or trace hidden processes. Fortunately, the author is generally so apt when it comes to ‘show, don't tell’-style textual analysis, that the reader tolerates the formalities made necessary by arguing on the epistemological home turf of LI. On the one hand, specific formulations twist the message of the book in a way which seem to open up towards a revised version of LI. The book concludes that ‘as long as fisheries remain the economic backbone of the Faroe Islands and Greenland, it will remain essential for the . . . Home Rule governments to remain in control of their fisheries resources.’ (page 211; cf. page 196). In Rebhan's rendition, the prevalent version of LI claims that short term economic interests^ will be decisive; his conclusion could be read to suggests that long term economic interests are decisive – and sovereignty, then, is merely a means to secure that aim rather than an inalienable value according to national identity discourse (as in Bergmann's analysis of the Icelandic case which Rebhan cites as inspiration). On the other hand, the overall thrust of the argument contributes to an alternative tradition in the International Relations discipline explaining integration decisions with identity concerns rather than economic rationality (Hansen and Wæver 2002, Rumelili 2007, Gad and Adler-Nissen 2014). Particularly, Rebhan is explicitly inspired by Bergmann's work on Iceland in this tradition (2009 and in Gad & Adler-Nissen 2014) when he singles out the current version of EU's Common Fisheries Policies (CFP) as prohibitive for integration of the North Atlantic fisheries nations. Moreover, the book convincingly identifies sovereignty as doubly problematic for the home ruled^ territories (page 159–62, 190, 197): EU-accession would under the current constitutional arrangement happen via Danish membership. This would involve not only passing sovereignty taken home from Copenhagen on to Brussels, but also not having a separate seat at the table when negotiating the vital issues surrendered. The book closes by considering a few ‘factors for change’ – re-nationalisation or regionalisation of the CFP; diversification of the Faroe and Greenlandic economies; possible independence – none of which appear immediate. The reader is left with an image of the future consisting primarily of an erosion of the home rule arrangements by EU integration eating up competences kept in Copenhagen – primarily EU coordination of foreign policy aspects of issues substantially devolved like hunting, whaling, and fishing (page 201ff). Here, the book come across as a bit conservative when it comes to the willingness of Denmark to play games with its formal sovereignty. Rebha n seems to accept the official 2005 interpretation of Danish constitutional law, that Danish sovereignty cannot be divided (page 153, 203ff). However, as Rebhan handed in his book as a PhD thesis, the Danish government actually did agree to launch a case at the WTO against the EU on behalf of the Faroes – literally placing Denmark on both sides of the table (pp. 205f; cf. Gad 2016). The strength of the volume lies not in creative policy advice but in solid academic craftsmanship: Rebhan has made a lasting contribution in providing both a historical overview and forthcoming introductions to key debates and documents; domestic position papers and reports as well as shifting bilateral agreements with the EU.-- Provided by Publisher.
- Revised thesis (doctoral) - Humboldt University, Berlin and University of Iceland.
Includes bibliographical references.
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