Europe's Solidarity under Siege

Is the European Union's solidarity fracturing? After bruising enlargement negotiations and internal differences over Iraq, and with similar divisions surrounding the new EU constitution and the common European foreign and defense policy, one might well think just that. Public opinion polls also show a dramatic decline in support for enlargement within the current EU member states. Whether or not the crisis of European solidarity is real is a fundamental question, because the EU will not survive without solidarity, at least not as we know it.

The sense of equality and solidarity is a necessary foundation of any democratic community. In the 1950's the British sociologist T. S. Marshall wrote about the progress of rights, from civil rights in the 18 th century, to political (democratic) rights in the 19 th century, to social rights in the 20 th century. These three dimensions--liberal, democratic and social--describe the modern European nation state.