The Crown Jewel
It is often said that the European Union is both an institution and an ongoing political project. When the Norwegian Nobel Committee awarded the 2012 Peace Prize to the European Union and when two representatives of the prizewinner spoke at the award ceremony, they all referred to the union as a process, effort, and work. Herman Van Rompuy, President of the European Council, spoke of the union as an “unrivalled way” of binding the interests of Europeans.1 In big picture terms, integration rests on the forging and maintenance of intergovernmental consensuses as well as the creation of supranational norms and standards. If we are to unpack these processes into their constituent components, what does this production of norms and consensuses actually comprise? What work and what efforts does it consist of, who are doing that work, how do they do it, and with what intended and unintended consequences?
Examined at a closer range and beyond the terminology of intergovernmentalism and supranationalism, European integration hinges on the production of new knowledge about how Europe works or ought to work. This knowledge makes diverse places in Europe calculable and manageable in one regulatory space. The often fragile intergovernmental compromises rest on the production of new knowledge that both codifies and re-imagines what is known about Europe, what is desirable or possible there, and how it can be achieved.
This knowledge production rests fundamentally ...