The first chapter begins by introducing the concept of institutional change, first by defining politics as a competition and institutions as the rules that political actors play by, and second by observing that actors often try to change institutions—in particular, the rules that allocate political power. Next it proceeds to apply this general social science phenomenon to the European Union (EU), drawing a distinction between the EU's formal institutions (laws) and informal institutions (nonlegal rules), before asking why the EU's Member State governments would allow any transfer of power to other EU actors through the creation of informal institutions. The book argues that informal accords—bundles of informal institutions—paradoxically results in the reallocation of power among EU actors, thereby leading to increased European integration. There is also a literature review of the array of theories that compete to explain the European integration outcome.
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