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Transnational socialist networks in the 1970s: the cases of European Community development aid and southern enlargement

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis

This thesis examines the role of the western European socialist parties’ transnational cooperation in European integration in the 1970s. It argues that their cooperation across national borders significantly influenced politics and policy-making in what was then the European Communities (EC). The thesis focuses on the network-like informal structures that characterised transnational cooperation between those socialist (leading) party members/leaders of different national parties involved in European affairs. Methodologically, the study draws on concepts from political science, notably, the ‘policy network’ approach and the notion of ‘Europeanisation’ and utilises these concepts as analytical tools for historical source analysis. Empirically, the study is based on extensive archival research in 17 archives in nine countries, including newly accessible party sources and previously undisclosed private papers. While so far research concentrated on Christian democrats’ contribution to European integration, for the first time, the thesis documents that socialist transnational cooperation in and through transnational networks was an important factor of the emerging European governance system.

In two case studies, the thesis addresses the role of the socialist transnational cooperation concerning two important policy areas, namely, EC development aid policy and EC southern enlargement policy. Both policy fields helped define the external dimension of European politics and policy-making in the 1970s with major challenges such as the fair distribution of resources between the rich North and the poor South and the transitions in southern Europe with tremendous consequences for the political order in Western Europe and the EC. The thesis demonstrates that the socialist parties strengthened their informal transnational network structures for the purposes of debating ideological and programmatic issues and finding policy solutions to common challenges in both policy fields. Moreover, it shows that the socialist transnational networks developed various functions to influence European governance. Against this background, the analysis in this thesis makes not only a significant contribution to the study of transnational networks of western European socialist parties and European integration in the 1970s; it also adds to our understanding of the role of transnational networks in European politics and policy-making.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
Supervisors/Advisors
Award dateAug 2013
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ID: 5313874