The politics of international norms
until further notice
SourceEuropean Journal of International Relations, 13, 2, (2007), pp. 217-238
Article / Letter to editor
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Nationale politieke stelsels, ihb het Ned pol stel
European Journal of International Relations
SubjectInstitutional Shifts in Government and Governance in a Comparative and International Context
Theories on the role of norms in international relations generally neglect the possibility that after their adoption a new battle over their precise meaning ensues, especially when a norm remains vague and illusive. Norm implementation is not only a matter of internalization and compliance, but also of redefinition. Building on insights from rationalist and constructivist approaches, this article advances the idea of recurrent battles for and over norms in international politics. It argues that the analytical tools of international regime theory are instrumental in tracking such battles. This framework is applied to the history and role of subsidiarity as a norm in the competence regime of the European Union between 1991 and 2005. Its main finding is that the issue of subsidiarity was not a matter of norm internalization, but concerned a recurrent battle between old and newly empowered actors over its precise meaning, eventually favouring the member states' prerogative.
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