The Obsolescence of Neo-functionalism

  • Thilo ZimmermannEmail author


After World War II, the Allies established a “functional” international order. Neo-functionalism, or “functional-federalism”, is, as the name says, a combination of federalism and the theory of functionalism in international relations. The chapter illustrates how neo-functionalism was developed in order to find a way to create a European federation within the global “functional” geopolitical order that had been installed after World War II. Many problems of the European integration process today can be explained from the hybrid nature of neo-functionalism. Neo-functionalism came to its limits in the 1970s, when increasing capital flows raised economic interdependencies between nation states and put the functional geopolitical word order under pressure. Functional-federalism became obsolete, because it could not explain these new dynamics.


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© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.CologneGermany

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