European Union 2014 /European Parliament

Europe and Anti-Europe

The European Parliament election made it clear that there are now two Europes: one in which the logic of integration is deeply embedded in the sociopolitical order; and one that rejects the basic assumptions of pooled sovereignty. And, as the results in Britain and France show, an imperial legacy can align countries with the latter camp.

LONDON – The European Parliament election has set off a painful process of rethinking not only how the European Union works, but also what it is fundamentally about. The outcome made it clear that there are now two Europes: one in which the logic of integration is deeply embedded in the political system and the social order; and one that rejects the basic assumptions of pooled sovereignty.

The good news is that most of Europe is in the former category; the bad news is that the exceptions include two very large and powerful countries.

The debate about Europe is not simply a discussion of the merits of this or that institutional or technical solution to a problem of political coordination; it is about how societies can organize themselves successfully in a globalized world. Up to now, there has been too much emphasis on institutional design, and not enough on social dynamism and innovation.

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