Skip to main content

7d3ec00446f86f480f00ca00_pa3658c.jpg Paul Lachine

Europe Needs a Plan B

If Europe’s seemingly inexorable disintegration process is to be arrested and reversed, both Greece and the eurozone must urgently embrace a Plan B that recognizes the inevitability of default. And the European elite needs to stop treating the status quo as sacrosanct.

NEW YORK – The European Union was brought into existence by what Karl Popper called piecemeal social engineering. A group of farsighted statesmen, inspired by the vision of a United States of Europe, recognized that this ideal could be approached only gradually, by setting limited objectives, mobilizing the political will needed to achieve them, and concluding treaties that required states to surrender only as much sovereignty as they could bear politically. That is how the post-war Coal and Steel Community was transformed into the EU – one step at a time, understanding that each step was incomplete and would require further steps in due course.

The EU’s architects generated the necessary political will by drawing on the memory of World War II, the threat posed by the Soviet Union, and the economic benefits of greater integration. The process fed on its own success, and, as the Soviet Union crumbled, it received a powerful boost from the prospect of German reunification.

Germany recognized that it could be reunified only in the context of greater European unification, and it was willing to pay the price. With the Germans helping to reconcile conflicting national interests by putting a little extra on the table, the process of European integration reached its apogee with the Maastricht Treaty and the introduction of the euro.

We hope you're enjoying Project Syndicate.

To continue reading, subscribe now.

Subscribe

Get unlimited access to PS premium content, including in-depth commentaries, book reviews, exclusive interviews, On Point, the Big Picture, the PS Archive, and our annual year-ahead magazine.

https://prosyn.org/8S1A2xC;
  1. drew47_Drew AngererGetty Images_trumpgiulianasmiling Drew Angerer/Getty Images

    Will Trump Be Removed from Office?

    Elizabeth Drew

    Assuming the US House of Representatives votes to impeach President Donald Trump, the fact remains that there are far fewer votes in the Senate than will be needed to convict him and remove him from office. But the willingness of Congress – including the Senate – to continue tolerating his dangerous conduct is now truly in question.

    0
  2. rudd9_Darrian TraynorGetty Images_climateprotestburningaustralia Darrian Traynor/Getty Images

    Unsustainable Australia

    Kevin Rudd

    Before the current conservative government came to power in 2013, Australia was well-positioned to make the necessary transition to a low-carbon economy. But now, the country is heading in reverse, and has already fallen behind most developed countries, and even China, on reducing emissions and building resilience against climate change.

    1

Cookies and Privacy

We use cookies to improve your experience on our website. To find out more, read our updated Cookie policy, Privacy policy and Terms & Conditions