The history of diplomacy and international relations has dominated the development of historiography on European integration, highly encouraged and supported institutionally and financially by the European Commission in the eighties and nineties of the last century - especially during the Delors Commission - and forgotten after the harsh criticisms of behaviorism, if not of Agitprop, received. For this reason, European integration continues to be approached from the perspective of the foreign policy of each of the Member States. It is true that since the nineties efforts have been made to open new paths, through social history - European public space, European social model, European social structure – or cultural history - European identities and values – but they are difficult paths from the methodological and theoretical point of view. Despite the efforts of Alan Milward and other historians, a descriptive history continues to prevail and we have not been able to construct a theory of European integration from history. Of course, there are fewer and fewer stories of Christmas Story when it comes to tackling the history of the European construction (Moreno, 2013: 610).
The future of historical studies on European integration requires a multidisciplinary collaboration with Political Science, of course, but also with Sociology, Economics, Law and other disciplines. Certainly, institutionalism with its theoretical reference of path dependence and concepts as central actors or political entrepreneurs has been gaining adherents within European historians as an effective instrument to understand the process of integration beyond the Brussels circle, governments and their decisions and link it with European and global history in general, overcoming descriptive narratives and looking at broad diachronic approaches of the process (Kaiser, 2010: 56-60). The multidisciplinary approach is undoubtedly useful and necessary, but historians must return to the idea of Ferdinand Braudel of history as a common market of the social sciences. Not the poor relative who is entrusted with some cases of study to confirm others’ theories or hypotheses, but the mortar with which to build the knowledge of a tremendously complex and original process, no doubt. In order to do this, we have to be sensitive to the descriptive abuses that we sometimes commit and make clear without blushing the theories that we use constantly without enunciating. We can also contribute with own theories about the process of European integration and collaborate with sociologists in the diachronic study of the structures and social identities that has been forging the European construction; with economists on the impacts that community policies have been producing and on their effects; with political scientists and jurists in the articulation of a dynamic model of the process as a whole.
With regard to the pending issues Loth (2008: 25-26) suggested among others: the role of individual personalities, beyond the founding fathers already well known - with a generous reading one can include here collective personalities such as political parties and transnational movements which have regained interest; the impact that the integration process has had on the idea(s) of Europe, the European public space and the new identities that have been emerging during the process, with its corollary of symbols, interpretations and beliefs; the evolution of the methods of community governance and their effects, in a very prominent way in relation to the democracy / effectiveness binomial. In Spain, Moreno Juste (2012: 162-167) points out four interesting vectors. The community institutions and their role in the processes of democratization of European countries in their limes. The interaction between the agendas of the foreign affairs of the Member States, the home affairs of the Community and, again, the foreign affairs of the applicant States. The limits that a model of European construction controlled by the States presents. The processes of Europeanization of foreign policies and institutions - perhaps the approach could be extended to civil society as well - in the Member States and in the candidates.
The importance of the European story for our country is evident. During the years of transition and beyond, Europe was more than a referent of democracy, freedom or modernization. It was a key element in the articulation of the State and in its governance. Now that the crisis has demystified community reality, Spain's national story seems to have been orphaned by this argument and, for the first time in decades, we do not know very well what Europe we need or want in relation to that story. This is a path that historians must contribute to clearing up of uncertainties. One of our deficits in relation to the European historiography in this field is the study of some outstanding personalities in the process of integration or in our approach to the EEC, Madariaga or Ullastres to cite only two significant cases; but it is undoubtedly the role of the social agents that deserves more attention. In contrast to what happens in other European countries, we hardly know anything about the role and opinions of trade unions in relation to the integration process, and very little of business organizations (López Gómez, 2014, Alonso, 1984). The return of the European emigres of the sixties and seventies and their impact on the political, social and cultural attitudes of the Spaniards, as well as on the vision of Europe from our country (Sanz Diaz, 2011, Latorre Catalán, 2006, Guirao, 2008); of course a central chapter of the returnees would be formed by the Spanish elites formed in Europe during the last decades of the Franco regime. In a line very close to the previous one, it would be advisable to delve into the evolution of the vision of Europe on the part of the Spaniards and, especially, the vision of the nearest one, be them Portuguese, French or Moroccan and Latin American, before and after our entry in the Community.
This proposal is made up of two teams based in the universities of Vigo and Valladolid, respectively. However, their research and work groups also include researchers from the universities of Alicante, Complutense de Madrid, Barcelona and Nova de Lisboa. Among the doctors who make up the research team of this project are three of the twenty-two Spanish holders of Jean Monnet Ad Personam Chairs - including two of the three distinguished historians with this honor - a member of the Executive of the European Community Studies Association (ECSA-World), the President and Deputy Secretary of ECSA-Spain and the Spanish historian present in the network History of European Integration Research Society. Several of these doctors have already entered, with relevant publications, in some of the areas that we are going to develop.