European Integration in the 21st Century: Unity in Diversity?


Edited by: Mary Farrell, Stefano Fella & Michael Newman

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    Notes on Contributors

    Esko Antola is a Jean Monnet Professor and the director of the Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence at the University of Turku, Finland. He is a member of the Academic Advisory Committee to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Finnish government, and played a prominent part in Finland's pre-accession negotiations. He is currently engaged in a research programme on Small States and the Future of Europe. His most recent publications are The impact of EMU on Institutions and Decision-Making in the European Union (Turku, 1999) and New EU? (Helsinki, 1998).

    Enrique Banús is Professor of European Literature and Director of the Centre for European Studies at the University of Navarre (Spain). He studied German and Romance Philology at the Universities of Bonn and Aachen. His main research interests lie in European Cultural Policy, Images of European Identity, History of the Ideas of European Integration, Reception and Transmission in European Literature.

    Kevin Boles is a lecturer in International Business in the Business School at Manchester Metropolitan University. His research interests include the economics and strategic impact of European monetary union.

    Madeleine Colvin is a legal policy consultant at JUSTICE, a legal human rights organisation in the UK. She is a qualified barrister who practised law for some ten years before becoming legal officer at the Children's Legal Centre and then Liberty. Since joining JUSTICE in 1992, she has had particular responsibility for a project involving ongoing analysis of the EU's respect for human rights standards in the particular areas of policing and criminal justice. She is the author of a number of reports, the most recent being ‘The Schengen Information System: A Human Rights Audit’ (JUSTICE, November 2000).

    Mary Farrell is senior lecturer in European Studies at the University of North London. Her research interests include European integration, the international relations of the European Union, and international political economy. Her most recent publication is Spain in the EU: The Road to Economic Convergence (Palgrave, 2001).

    Stefano Fella was awarded his doctorate by the University of North London (UNL) in 2001 for his thesis on the Labour Party and the 1996–97 intergovernmental conference of the EU. He is currently a Research Fellow in the Department of Political Science at the University of Genoa. He has previously lectured on European Union politics at UNL and worked as a researcher in the House of Commons and the European Parliament. He is the author of ‘A Europe of the Peoples: New Labour and Democratising the in’, EU Catherine Hoskyns and Michael Newman (eds) Democratising the EU: Issues for the Twenty-first Century (Manchester University Press, 2000).

    Peter Gowan is Principal Lecturer in European Studies at the University of North London, and an editor of New Left Review. His recent publications include The Question of Europe (with Perry Anderson, Verso, 1997), and The Global Gamble (Verso, 1999). He is currently completing a book on pan-European transformations in the 1990s.

    Nigel Healey is Dean of the Business School and Pro-Vice Chancellor at Manchester Metropolitan University. His research interests focus on the transition economies of Central Europe.

    Christina Julios is a postgraduate student at the University of London, completing a thesis on English as a second language education in the UK and USA. Her interests include language policy, identity and ethnic minority issues. Her recent publications include Social Exclusion: Current Policy and Practice (co-authored with William Solesbury, Queen Mary University of London, 2001), ‘Bilingualism and the New American Identity’, in Anne J. Kershen (ed.) A Question of Identity (Ashgate, 1988).

    Frank McDonald is Head of Department in the International Business Unit at Manchester Metropolitan University. His research interest is in the area of European business strategy.

    Alan S. Milward spent several years as Professor of Contemporary History at the European University Institute in Florence. He is also Emeritus Professor of Economic History at the London School of Economics. He is Director of the research project The Expansion of the European Communities 1969–1986 at the EUI. His publications include The European Rescue of the Nation-State, and he is co-author of The Frontier of National Sovereignty. He is the Official Historian of Britain in the European Communities, and is currently Visiting Professor at the London European Research Centre in the University of North London.

    Michael Newman is Jean Monnet Professor and Director of the London European Research Centre at the University of North London, and has published extensively on issues relating to democracy and citizenship in the European Union. Recent publications include Democracy, Sovereignty and European Union (Hurst, 1996); Democratising the EU: Issues for the Twenty-first Century, with Catherine Hoskyns (Manchester University Press).

    Elzbieta Stadtmüller is Professor of International Relations and Deputy Director at the Institute of International Studies, University of Wroclaw, Poland. In recent years, her research interests have focused on political relations in Europe, issues of integration and security, and she has published widely in these areas. Her recent publications include The Border of Fear and Hope: The Poles and Germany in the 1990s (Wroclaw), and Political Problems of the Contemporary World (1998).

    Monica Threlfall is Senior Lecturer in Politics at Loughborough University. Her research interests include Spanish politics, new interpretations of employment trends, and gender policy. She is editor of Consensus Politics in Spain (Intellect Books, 2000), and Mapping the Women's Movement (Verso, 1996).

    Alex Warleigh is Reader in European Governance and Deputy Director of the Institute of Governance, Public Policy and Social Research, Queen's University, Belfast. He previously taught at the University of Reading, and before that worked as adviser to the Chair of the European Parliament Environment Committee. His publications include (as author) The Committee of the Regions: Institutionalising Multi-Level Governance? (Kogan Page, 1999), (as co-editor) Citizenship and Governance in the European Union (Continuum, 2001), and (as sole editor), Understanding European Union Institutions (Routledge, 2001). He will be publishing a further monograph Flexible Integration: Which Model for the European Union? in 2002 (Sheffield Academic Press).


    This book originated in an international conference organised by the London European Research Centre of the University of North London in May 1999, entitled ‘The European Union in 2010’. We are grateful to the University Association for Contemporary European Studies (UACES) for their financial support for that event. We also want to record our thanks to all the authors for their contributions to this collective volume. Finally, we would like to thank Lucy Robinson of Sage for her help with the project.



    CAPcommon agricultural policy
    CBIConfederation of British Industry
    CBSSCouncil of Baltic Sea States
    CEECentral and Eastern Europe
    CEEPEuropean Confederation of Public Enterprises
    CEFTACentral European Free Trade Agreement
    CEICentral European Initiative
    CFSPCommon Foreign and Security Policy
    CILTCentre for Information on Language Teaching and Research
    CISCustoms Information Systems
    CJIFCombined Joint-Task Forces
    CoRCommittee of the Regions
    CRECommission for Racial Equality
    DESDepartment for Education and Sciences
    DfEEDepartment for Education and Employment
    EAEurope Agreements
    EAPCEuro-Atlantic Partnership Council
    EBRDEuropean Bank for Reconstruction and Development
    ECEuropean Community
    ECBEuropean Central Bank
    ECHREuropean Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental
    ECJEuropean Court of Justice
    ECSCEuropean Coal and Steel Community
    EECEuropean Economic Community
    EIBEuropean Investment Bank
    EMUeconomic and monetary union
    EPEuropean Parliament
    ESDIEuropean Security and Defence Identity
    ETUCEuropean Trades Union Confederation
    EUEuropean Union
    FBFrontier Belt
    FDIforeign direct investment
    GATTGeneral Agreement on Trade and Tariffs
    GDPgross domestic product
    GNPgross national product
    GUUAMGeorgia, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan and Moldova
    IBRDInternational Bank for Reconstruction and Development
    IDAInternational Development Association
    IFCInternational Finance Corporation
    IGCintergovernmental conference
    ILOInternational Labour Organisation
    IMFInternational Monetary Fund
    JHAJustice and Home Affairs
    MIGAMultilateral Investment Guarantee Agency
    NACCNorth Atlantic Co-operation Council
    NATONorth Atlantic Treaty Organisation
    NCISNational Criminal Intelligence Unit
    NGOnon-governmental organisation
    NICnewly industrialised country
    NMDNational Missile Defence
    OSCEOrganisation of Security and Co-operation in Europe
    PfPPartnership for Peace
    QMVqualified majority voting
    SDRspecial drawing right
    SEASingle European Act
    SEEsouth east Europe
    SIRENESupplementary Information Requests at the National Entry
    SISSchengen Information System
    SMRsingle market regime
    TEUTreaty on European Union [Maastricht]
    ToRTreaty of Rome
    UNUnited Nations
    UNECEUnited Nations Economic Commission for Europe
    UNESCOUnited Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation
    UNICEEuropean Union of Industries
    WEUWestern European Union
    WTOWorld Trade Organisation
  • Conclusion: Possible European Futures


    The start of a new century and a new millennium presents an opportunity for looking back at the past and trying to anticipate possible futures. A critical review of where the European Union is going represents more than just sentimental reminiscing or idle speculation. For the EU has reached a critical juncture in its development, with a full agenda of activities and plans towards a widening and deepening of the integration process over the next few years. It is not simply because future integration will challenge the internal structures of the union and its external relations with the rest of the world in unprecedented ways that this review has become both urgent and vital. It is also because the world in which the Community was conceived and constructed has changed beyond recognition.

    It is possible, when thinking about likely future scenarios, to become influenced by some of the more obvious developments underway and to ignore other factors, issues or ideas that fail to fit within prevailing orthodoxies and operating paradigms. In this case, it can be easy to miss vital evidence and clues that offer a picture of future developments. Even seasoned observers were taken aback by the collapse of the former Soviet Union, and by the speed of developments that followed its demise. Similarly, despite their direct concern with the maintenance of stability in the international system, the experts in the World Bank and International Monetary Fund failed to predict the 1997 Asian financial crisis or its economic repercussions. And yet, if we are to avoid the excesses of ‘futurology’ we have to consider the evidence of what lies before us and base our predictions about the future, at least in part, on what we know of the present. This is largely the approach adopted in this volume.

    One of the most striking aspects of this collective endeavour is the extent of the divergence – perceived by all of the contributors – between the current outcomes of integration and those they consider desirable. This also results in agreement that there is a gap between probability and desirability with respect to the future of the whole European project. There is also a lack of overall direction in the EU that may well present serious obstacles to ever closing this gap in the future, and may hinder the emergence of a truly cohesive and democratic political community.

    Unity and Diversity – Where We Stand

    As Alan Milward suggests, the weight of history is evident in the contemporary European Union. The evolving path towards deeper European integration among the member states has not reduced their ability to retain control over the process or their desire to protect their power. Member states exercise this control in the Council of Ministers and they will continue to do so in the aftermath of the institutional developments in the Treaty of Nice agreed in December 2000. The continued desire to protect national sovereignty shapes their attitudes towards any challenges or threats (perceived or real) against such traditional bastions of the nation-state as policies in the fields of welfare, defence and external relations. These areas and issues remain deeply embedded in the historical roots of each country.

    Yet, as Milward also argues, while history has much to offer by way of explaining our contemporary world, it may be a limited guide to predicting the future of the European Union. For example, the new applicants will not face the favourable conditions that earlier entrants to the EC/EU were able to negotiate – conditions that would subsequently enter the formal arrangements of the European Union and its acquis communautaire. Britain was granted a transition period and later secured a rebate in the level of national contributions to the EU budget, opening the door to further progress in European integration in the 1980s; Spain received a significant share of the Structural Funds, and negotiated the Cohesion Fund, allowing the formal ratification of the Maastricht Treaty in 1992; and, more recently, both Britain and Denmark negotiated opt-outs to monetary union. These special economic deals will not be available to new members of the Community. And, therefore, the possibilities for the protection of their national sovereignty remain limited compared with those guaranteed to the existing member states.

    The weight of history is also implicit in the relationship between the small and large states within the union. But, as Esko Antola argues, a key problem for the future is to identify how small states might develop a more influential position in the institutional structure and the politics of the Community. In the EU-15, ten states can be categorised as ‘small’, and enlargement will increase the number. But what kind of unity can emerge, and what type of community will result from a grouping that is dominated by the larger member states? The question raises both positive and normative concerns that reach to the core of any serious attempt to deepen European integration. Again, Antola presents a dilemma for the analyst seeking ways of democratising the European Union through a more favourable representation of all national interests. There are grounds for pessimism about this for the Nice agreement involved a clear shift in the weighting of votes in favour of the large states. In other areas too there are clear tendencies threatening the doctrine of equal participation for all states. The disproportionate representation of officials from the larger countries in the institutions, the proposals to curtail the rotating presidency of the European Union, and to limit the number of official languages (highlighted also in the chapter by Christina Julios) are areas of concern. However, there is some room for optimism if, as Antola hopes, the small states can practise ‘niche diplomacy’, focusing on particular issues, facilitating coalition-building, and becoming more proactive in their approach.

    Most of the contributors recognise the strength and depth of the economic integration that has developed in the European Union. Milward stresses the importance of economic motives in the origins of the European Community, raising the possibility of a path dependency shaping its future. Boles and colleagues are concerned more with the contemporary phase of economic integration in their examination of the challenges facing the euro in the international monetary system, as a potential rival to the dollar as the principal international reserve currency. While they regard the introduction and adoption of the euro throughout the EU as a given, they locate instability at the wider level in the emerging struggle between the euro and the dollar.

    Europe's monetary authorities have remained coy about their vision for the euro in the international system. In the time since the introduction of the euro in January 1999, the European Central Bank has tried to maintain a low-key approach, refusing to be drawn on anything other than its unwavering commitment to monetary stability within the European Union. Even if it has not always succeeded in limiting its public statements to matters of monetary stability, and announcing interest rate changes, it has not so far indicated any desire to set a course of action with the aim of toppling the supremacy of the dollar. Boles et al. consider what factors might push the euro in that direction without any such ECB initiatives. It is their contention that the EU cannot rely solely on its undoubted strength as an economic bloc to enable the euro to qualify as a currency for international use. Here we may use the evidence of history once more, but this time to conclude that what worked for the United States in the post-Second World War period (the growing economic strength that enabled dollar supremacy to emerge) cannot be relied on to do the same for the European Union in the twenty-first century. Their contention that the European Union must also have equity, bond, and capital markets of sufficient size to rival those of the United States is eminently reasonable, and all the more so when we recognise both the deeper integration of the global capital market and the much increased levels of mobility in the contemporary international financial system. Boles et al. acknowledge the important role played by the Federal Reserve Board of the United States in maintaining the position of the dollar. This raises the issue of how the ECB might emulate the efforts of its American counterpart. More fundamentally, the entire economic orthodoxy underlying the EU might be criticised both in relation to its influence in shaping the role and authority of the institutions and the policies associated with monetary union. Externally, similar criticism may be directed towards the international institutions that hold responsibility for ensuring the stability of trade and capital flows.

    While the reform of the international monetary institutions is not the principal concern here, it is evident that the EU both affects and is affected by the international regime. Certainly, the regulatory framework for a global/international financial system must of necessity be established by a global/international organisation, with jurisdiction beyond the legal and regulatory boundaries of the European Union. Even if the European monetary authorities have no desire for a head-to-head confrontation with regulatory authorities elsewhere (and this is not proven), the very fact of international interdependence does impact upon the achievement of domestic stability goals. A second, and indeed related, point to consider from Boles et al. concerns the conclusion that the different regulatory approaches of the European Union and the United States – with the EU's preference for intervention, and the US for non-intervention and ‘benign neglect’ – might present a problem in international co-ordination. This would certainly affect the future development of the European economy, but it is not yet clear whether the EU will decide to take a more assertive position with regard to the nature and substance of international coordination, or even if there are substantive differences in the respective regulatory approaches of the two regions.

    Not all of the contributors to this volume would accept the view that the European Union has a distinctive regulatory framework. On the contrary, many of them acknowledge, either explicitly or implicitly, a distinct bias in the direction of a neo-liberal community, where economic interests hold sway in both the political processes and the policy outcomes over wider social concerns. Monica Threlfall's contribution addresses this question directly. In particular, she analyses social integration, which she regards as an unintended outcome of economic integration. Social integration is distinguished from social policy, from regulation, and from social inclusion. It is an outcome of policies, but an unplanned one. By contrast, social policy is planned, the result of a set of decisions taken through the political processes of the European Union. Social integration has arisen almost by accident, as a by-product of other EU policies, and has emerged on a very incremental basis.

    The liberalisation of trade, capital and labour movements was central to the Community envisioned in the Treaty of Rome. But what was not foreseen in the provision for the free movement of workers was the myriad of practical issues associated with the actual movement of workers across national boundaries. Many of these are only indirectly related to legal matters, and are more concerned with questions relating to family life, access to housing and health care, and to the enjoyment of the social practices of other member states. Threlfall regards the responses of individuals to these practical issues, and the difficulties they experienced within the context of cross-border movement, as providing the catalyst for social integration to evolve. Moreover, a practical need to respond to, or resolve, the contradictions that arose from the application of EU laws also provided a catalyst.

    As Threlfall acknowledges, the provision on free movement was radical in allowing for the emergence of social integration, albeit on a still limited scale. The processes she outlines suggest some pointers towards a democratic, and socially inclusive European Union. However, we might also need a longer historical perspective to properly assess the substantive implications of free movement for a deepening of social integration. For social integration means an extension of individual rights and their protection against encroachment either by the perverse implementation of the policies of member states, or through the neo-liberal Community regulatory model which permits market forces to dominate employment relations, working conditions, and competitive business practices. Slowly, individuals are demanding such rights but it is too early to be sure how this process will affect the future of the EU. Nevertheless, once rights are acknowledged, it is also crucial to ensure that there are mechanisms to prevent their infringement. What this requires, as an absolute minimum, is the provision of more information regarding the rights and entitlements that result from the creation of a single economic space. Linked to this is a requirement for higher standards of transparency in the political processes at both national and supranational levels, to facilitate improved communication between the different levels, and to incorporate the interest groups representing social concerns more directly, and more equally, into the political processes of the European Union. The Brussels bureaucratic machinery is rightly regarded as being more porous than national bureaucracies, but this counts for very little when access is hindered by limitations such as financial resources, organisational capacity, or the generally more fragmented nature of European societal groups. Similar arguments apply in regard to the access to other European institutions – the European Parliament, the Economic and Social Committee, and the Committee of the Regions. But we should also apply these arguments, with perhaps even greater emphasis to the Council of Ministers and the European Council.

    These proposals are important in two senses. On the one hand, the provision of information regarding rights and entitlements, and the associated improvement of transparency, pushes forward the processes of social integration. But there is a second consideration here, which may also be an unintended consequence of social integration. For this has been based upon pressure from below, from the articulation of demands by citizens, individuals and members of European society directed at the political authorities located at the national and at the supranational levels. It constitutes, essentially, active participation in European integration – even though this may not have been so perceived by the actors at the time. The expansion of social integration serves a very important objective in the context of the present discussion. For it creates through the active participation of citizens a sense of ‘ownership’ in the political processes of the European Union itself. Active participation by individuals, citizens and society, which allows for the development of this sense of ‘ownership’, can lead ultimately to a correction of the democratic deficit that has long featured in the operation of the European Union.

    The question of democracy is addressed explicitly by Alex Warleigh, who offers a cogent summary of the position to date, when he states that ‘After fifty years of European integration we have no United States of Europe, but rather an unwieldy product of the tension between the desire for national autonomy and the continued need for co-operation.’ In effect, the member states have created a governance system that avoids serious conflict between them and at the same time offers the ability or capacity to provide more general welfare than would be available through the individual national efforts. He sets out the scenario of a future integration process that is based upon flexible integration, which seems to be the preferred approach of allowing a core group of states to move forward at a faster pace determined by their interests, needs or demands. While questioning the democratic nature of this approach, since it allows for the creation of inequalities between the states, Warleigh suggests that it can be harnessed to the notion of deliberative democracy in which policies, principles and ideas are negotiated and from which an EU value-set can emerge. This would then form the basis for an institutional design and policy outcomes. Crucial in all of this is citizen participation. But such an approach must identify active mechanisms to initiate and incorporate greater citizen participation and avoid a situation in which dominant or powerful interests shape the outcomes.

    Madeleine Colvin's chapter on the EU approach to internal security shows how far we are from this situation at present. The picture that emerges from her analysis is of a Community that is willing to sacrifice individual human rights to the demands of internal security as defined by a narrow group within the member states. She takes issue, not with the development and strengthening of supranational police co-operation per se, but rather with the implementation of the procedures for co-operation, and the policies on information-gathering and storage that impinge upon individual rights. Integration in the matter of internal security seems to result too often in a sidelining of rights to privacy, to a fair trial, and to redress of injury resulting from the excessive zeal of supranational security systems. She advocates action at several levels. For one thing, it is essential to provide for a proper judicial and democratic oversight of EU bodies, such as Europol, whose activities may impinge directly on the criminal judicial system in any of the member states. Secondly, these security developments, and the related EU level system of criminal justice laws and procedures that have direct implications for the correct observance of human rights, are developing under the intergovernmental third pillar, without adequate judicial safeguards or acceptable standards of democratic scrutiny. The challenge, therefore, is to change all this and to guarantee the protection of human rights, irrespective of nationality. Colvin's call for greater attention to be paid to the impact on individuals as a result of new cross-border policing methods, judicial decisions and data systems in the context of creating an internal security community is also relevant to our concern with delineating desirable futures. It should be heeded with greater urgency in the face of rising immigration to the European Union and the increase of refugees and asylum seekers. The extreme reluctance of the European Union to open its borders to the free inward movement of people is strikingly at odds with its support for the unfettered movement of goods, capital and finance. In terms of the Community, and the constituent member states' stance on immigration, there is truly a ‘fortress Europe’.

    This ‘fortress Europe’ mentality is reflected in the EU cultural policy, as Enrique Banús demonstrates in his chapter. For he suggests that what passes for a ‘European’ cultural policy demonstrates the strength of nationalist sentiment that pervades the thinking of the member states and is, in reality, merely an add-on to national cultural policies. While the latter have served to build and reinforce a sense of national identity through their support for national cultural activities, the initiatives served up under the guise of a European cultural policy have not gone any way towards creating a ‘European identity’. Part of the problem here lies with the European Comission's ongoing concern to stress cultural diversity in relation to the member states, and to emphasise the need to respect this diversity. This approach inevitably played into the hands of the nation-states, and effectively endorsed their efforts to protect the ‘national heritage’ and the ‘national identity’, enabling them to ‘capture’ European cultural policy to serve the same objectives.

    Notwithstanding the difficulties inherent in identifying a European cultural identity, Banús presents a persuasive case to suggest that it is based around a notion of cultural citizenship. Like Milward, he calls upon history to support his contention that continual interchanges over many centuries across culture and literature have ‘forged a patchwork map of Europe’ with local, regional and European elements. His view of culture as a dynamic process, continually shaped and reshaped by many forces, highlights the missing elements in the EU's own understanding. But the real cost of a dominant nationalist interpretation of cultural identity is the diversity and tolerance that could be nurtured in a European community open to different cultural and ethnic traditions. On present trends, this lack of tolerance bodes ill for a future EU enlarged to accept new members with a wide variety of cultural traditions.

    The chapter by Christina Julios leads towards a similar conclusion. Both she and Banús are acutely aware of a rich, cultural tradition across Europe, but it is one which both consider to have been ill used in the project to create European unity. The strategy of the EU language policy in promoting diversity is presented as positive. But the truth here, as Julios demonstrates, is that the reality fails to match the stirring rhetoric of the European authorities. Practical difficulties, from the global dominance of English to the linguistic nationalism of some member states (clothed in an assimilationist discourse) combined with logistical problems relating to translation (which are likely to assume even greater importance with future enlargement), have resulted in the abandonment of linguistic diversity in favour of the emergence of socio-economically strong languages. Instead of the preservation of diversity, and support for a multilingual ideal, the EU has adopted its own form of assimilation and has conceded to the global domination of English, which now emerges as the main working language of the EU. Julios asserts the overwhelming case for multilingualism, and the ‘cognitive, socio-cultural, and educational advantages of proficiency in several languages’.

    Diversity of a different nature lies behind the contributions on security presented in the chapters by Elżbieta Stadtmüller and Peter Gowan. Both of them see it as essential to consider European security issues in the broader world context, although there are differences in emphases with respect to the two positions. In the call for a multidimensional approach to defining security combined with a crucial review of the geographic boundaries of ‘Europe’, Stadtmüller sets out important markers for a future Europe. She acknowledges the evident reliance by the Europeans on a security guarantee system provided through the NATO/WEU framework. But she also notes that in the contemporary world, military force by international organisations may be useful in reducing conflict, but not in resolving it. Moreover, the use or threat of military force may in practice serve to exacerbate instability. And this is particularly likely where interventions by international military organisations are made in direct contravention of international law. Her proposals for democratising the enforcement of international law, and the adherence to the underlying norms and standards by pressure from below, rather than the ‘imposition’ of peace from the top is in harmony with aspirations for the creation of a democratic European Union. Equally, her view of security as both a goal and a medium leads her to consider economic development as a key ingredient in meeting the security concerns of states on the borders of Europe, where domestic instability is endemic. However, it seems almost impossible for such states to realise economic development through exportled growth, when the European Union pursues protectionist policies with regard to trade and other policy areas. Gowan takes a more critical role of the European Union's external relations. His chapter presents an indictment of the European Union as an international actor, documenting its failures of leadership in providing critical support in the wake of regional disintegration, while pursuing its own interests in its relation to the ‘frontier belt’ countries – Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Slovenia.

    Gowan suggests that the recent history of EU-US relations in the different regions of Eastern Europe may be characterised by the dominant role played by the United States, with the European Union taking a secondary role to its Atlantic ‘partner’. But is the EU in a position to provide a viable alternative? Certainly, it was ill-prepared to take on the challenge of addressing the problems in the region since, from its inception, it has been inward looking, intolerant of diversity and, in the areas of defence and foreign policy, restricted by the constraints imposed by the member states. This is, however, a serious and regrettable defect in a political community that has (or might have) aspirations towards democracy, justice and a tolerance of diversity. Finally, an analysis of the forces unleashed by the disintegration of the region to the east of the European frontier must take account not only of the geo-strategic interests at play but also the local interests, aspirations, and rivalries among different ethnic groups in their search for autonomy and a legitimacy grounded in a preferred political system. Not to do so is to repeat the past mistakes of global powers, and to continue with foreign policies grounded in realist notions of the sovereign state. Moreover, by not recognising the legitimate aspirations of ethnic communities towards democratic and equal representation in a political system, western states (or ‘powers’) perpetuate the sources of instability identified by Stadtmüller.

    Towards a Synthesis – and Beyond?

    So, what picture emerges from the volume as a whole? In general, the EU is seen as a community where economic integration holds sway. It is a community where social integration has barely begun, and where democracy is more conspicuous by its absence than its active presence in the political processes. Politically, the community is shaped by its neo-liberal bias, from the overwhelming emphasis on economic policy and the marginalisation of other policy areas, through to the dominant role of economic interest groups. The introduction of the euro serves to reinforce this bias. Undoubtedly, the new money in the pockets of European society may serve to bring European integration closer to the citizens, but it is questionable whether it will serve the longer-term purpose of closer unity based on ‘ownership’ of the process. Certainly, this will be problematic in the short term if the replacement of national currencies with the euro coincides with observed inflationary pressures created by producers and retailers ‘rounding up’ prices – a development likely to alienate the citizens rather than anything else. Furthermore, the history of money suggests the importance of a socialisation process to ensure the acceptability of whatever object is offered as a medium of exchange. In other words, a money will gain in usage if people who want to engage in exchange are willing to accept it to facilitate such exchanges. This is separate from, and in addition to, the creation of the legal institutions that guarantee its legitimacy. From this, one can assume that for national governments to swear never-ending allegiance to fiscal rectitude may not be a sufficient condition to guarantee the socialisation and acceptability of the euro.

    This leads to a more general conclusion that neo-liberalism is still too pervasive within the EU. The neo-liberal model upholds the virtues of the market, and favours those with the capacity (linked to financial and other resources) to compete in that market. Any individuals or groups that are not so fortunately endowed will face marginalisation. This means that social policy does little to prevent the exclusion of those who lack financial and other resources. The neo-liberal model therefore cultivates a ‘fortress Europe’ both internally and externally. Externally, we can observe it in a myriad of ways, from trade policy to immigration and refugee policy, and to the hierarchically structured set of relations that constitute EU development (including aid) policy. However, the inconsistency of neo-liberalism is most clearly reflected in the closed door stance adopted both individually and collectively towards those who seek to cross its frontiers. Yet there are sound economic arguments for extending the principle of free movement. Europe has an ageing population, and demographic changes have led to a rising dependency rate and a falling activity rate. The EU would benefit from the energy, motivation and productivity of people in the working age (tax-paying) groups. There are thus economic and ethical arguments for a more tolerant approach to immigration, and for a respect for diversity in all its forms. However, if we extrapolate from current trends, the most probable future holds out little prospect of a socially inclusive Europe.

    This is not to suggest that the EU has no positive features. Even with all its defects, the Community has managed to bind the states of this once warring region into a network of alliances, institutions and decisionmaking frameworks, where the strength of co-operative bonds make the possibility of disintegration more remote, and non-cooperation more costly than co-operation. But for those who consider normative ideals to be worth aiming for, tinkering with the general system through piecemeal, flexible integration is not enough. The proposed Intergovernmental Conference, due to take place in 2004, seems already to be limited in its ambition and scope to just this kind of marginal adjustment at the edges. Yet it is our contention that the European Union can become far more inclusive both internally and externally.

    To do so, it must offer a more distinctive option. Otherwise, people may begin to ask the question already posed by the liberal-leaning Economist magazine, ‘What is the point of ‘Europe’, if ‘Europe’ is turning out to be another United States?’ (The Economist, 2000). The approach of Romano Prodi, the President of the European Commission, in addressing the European Parliament in Strasbourg in February 2001, calling for a ‘no holds barred’ constitutional debate on the fundamental nature of the union, might appear more encouraging. However, the tone of the presentation suggested that there is much to be done in shaping the values of those at the top, as part of the overall design for a European community of democratic values. For in his query to the Parliament, he asked: ‘Are we all clear that we want to build something that can aspire to be a world power? In other words, not just a trading bloc but a political entity’ (Financial Times, 14 February 2001).

    The question of democratic values is one of the first crucial issues to be addressed within the broader framework of enquiry as to the kind of European community we want in the new century. In 1972, the Reith lecture for the BBC given by Andrew Shonfield treated Europe as ‘a journey to an unknown destination’. Since then any consideration of possible futures has been relegated to the margins of discussion. In proceeding on a piecemeal basis, and tinkering with the institutional structure as a response to the claims of a democratic deficit, the European integration process has avoided any great confrontation with entrenched interests. But while discussions on flexibility, on identifying ways of addressing the democratic deficit and institutional reform, and other debates over the functionality of the European Union are relevant and important, they avoid the central question that must be addressed at some point by the European Community. Otherwise there is the danger that a community will emerge by default, lacking the values that can underpin European unity.

    Contemporary Europe does not have any unifying myths around which to build a community, in the way that nation-states are supposed to have emerged through history. However, this need not be a problem in creating a European community. For we live in an age where myths are no longer central, or even believable (Smith, 1992). Despite this, European society now faces many different myths, traditions and cultures in a slowly evolving multiculturalism on the one hand, and a spreading globalisation of the capitalist-dominated value system on the other. The lack of confidence in political processes and in the political institutions of modern democracy, reflected in the growing degree of voter apathy throughout Western democracies is mirrored at the supranational level. This might be overcome if the necessary political strategies to be pursued at the local, national and supranational level can be identified.

    European unity remains a goal to be pursued. While unity within the conceptual framework of the founders of the European Community back in the 1950s may have been secured, there remains much more scope for a union that is based upon values of democracy, social inclusion and human rights. A direct engagement by political and social interests within and across national boundaries with the future of the European community, in terms of debating the final destination, is vital if a more meaningful form of unity is to be established. In the past, the absence of a clearly defined goal may have been advantageous. However, it seems increasingly untenable with the current pace and scope of integration, and the processes of globalisation which also create their own interdependence. Now is the time, however, for Europe to pose the question ‘where are we headed?’ and to launch a debate to consider the possible futures. In this context, it is encouraging that the Forward Studies Unit of the European Commision has made a start by envisaging future scenarios, with the publication of a report in 1998 (European Commission, 1998). This sets out five possible scenarios, based around an imaginative review of trends and prospects, and bearing such evocative titles as ‘The Hundred Flowers’, ‘Creative Societies’, and ‘Turbulent Neighbourhoods’. While the substantive nature of these scenarios may not be convincing, they contribute to the crucial task of thinking actively about the future.

    This concluding chapter has deliberately eschewed the consideration of various scenarios. It is more important to highlight the need for a constructive debate throughout Europe concerning the direction in which the European community might develop. Proposed outlines of a desirable future have been sketched out. But changes must depend upon political judgements and political processes based upon the conviction that the future is not predetermined.

    The Economist (2000) ‘What is Europe?’, 12 February: 13.
    European Commission (1998) Scenarios Europe 2010 – Five Possible Futures for Europe, Forward Studies Unit Working Paper, Brussels.
    Moravcsik, A. (1998) The Choice for Europe: Social Purpose and State Power from Messina to Maastricht. New York: Cornell University Press.
    Smith, A.D. (1992) ‘National Identity and the Idea of European Unity’, International Affairs, 68 (1): 55–76.

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