The European Union Facing Enlargement: Still a System sui generis?
The paper starts with the argument that in order to present the EU as a case in comparative regionalism a more inclusive understanding of regions has to be developed. When looking at region building as a social process of institutionalization we get a more encompassing understanding of the robustness of regionalism in different parts of the world and of the particularities of the European system. From this point of view it is not so much the outcome of the Intergovernmental Conference that counts but the political decisions and the daily practise of decentralized actors that shape the institutional setup of the European multilevel system. Apart from theoretical reasoning empiric evidence from several not yet published research projects is presented to support the claim that the EU as a "social construct" is firmly embedded in the ideas of political elites. The EU is, however, and will for a longer future stay a "Europe with states" and though member states institutions are affected by the process of Europeanization, national and even regional policy styles and routines of interest intermediation and policymaking are very stubborn to change.