Legal reform Research

A Watershed in the History of European Integration

In the 1980s, Irish Foreign Minister Dooge chaired a technical EU committee that proved instrumental in the move towards the Single European Act and eventually, the European Union.

In the 1980s, a committee was set up to deal with the subject of institutional reform. As Ireland was just assuming the presidency (1984), former minister of foreign affairs and senator Jim Dooge was appointed chair of this committee. The Dooge Committee on Institutional Affairs expendiently set out to make a number of recommendations for institutional improvements of the European Community. The Doodge report, which appeared within a few months, laid the foundations for the Single European Act, and after that the Maastricht Treaty, apparently with much of the report’s language being carried over verbatim.

It her Dooge lecture, professor of European governance Helen Wallace goes back to the committee’s work which “was made to seem as boring as possible” but in her opinion marks a watershed in the history of European integration. She praises the dexterity and expediency of the committee and its chair, but also argues that its working method marked the end of an era. She compares the SEA and Maastricht Treaty with the language andobjectives of more recent European Treaties, and concludes by addressing the UK’s recent stance in the process of European integration.