Europe’s European Problem

Matthew Yglesias flags what he calls "the shifting sands inside the German political elite" regarding the need to strengthen the European Union's political-economic governance mechanisms, but then concludes:

Leaving aside the policy ideas here, what you're seeing is a European policy debate. It's not Germany versus some other country. And it's not a simplistic "Europhiles versus Europhobes" debate either. It's a real disagreement about the best way for Europe to proceed, like how Democrats and Republicans argue in Ohio about national policy.

Unfortunately, I think that's putting too optimistic a spin on things. The truth is, this kind of European debate has long existed among Europe's political elites. The problem, then and now, is that it exists alongside simultaneous debates that break down along nationalist lines as well as debates that break down along simplistic Europhile vs. Europhobe lines. The former pit member states' interests against each other, whether within the political context of the EU or as arguments against the union, and was on display in the initial German reaction to the Greek bailout. The latter are just irrational attachments to exaggerated images of the union's potential, for better and worse.

For now, though, the truly European debates are largely confined to political elites and those parties -- particularly the Greens -- that have recognized the potential field of action that the union represents. For that kind of debate to really be popularized, a European identity will have to emerge. Not one that erases or supplants national identities, because that is unrealistic. But one that realistically expresses the political aspirations that only Europe can hope to meet in a globalized but not post-national world.

Keep reading for free!

Get instant access to the rest of this article by submitting your email address below. You'll also get access to three articles of your choice each month and our free newsletter:

Or, Subscribe now to get full access.

Already a subscriber? Log in here .

What you’ll get with an All-Access subscription to World Politics Review:

A WPR subscription is like no other resource — it’s like having a personal curator and expert analyst of global affairs news. Subscribe now, and you’ll get:

  • Immediate and instant access to the full searchable library of tens of thousands of articles.
  • Daily articles with original analysis, written by leading topic experts, delivered to you every weekday.
  • Regular in-depth articles with deep dives into important issues and countries.
  • The Daily Review email, with our take on the day’s most important news, the latest WPR analysis, what’s on our radar, and more.
  • The Weekly Review email, with quick summaries of the week’s most important coverage, and what’s to come.
  • Completely ad-free reading.

And all of this is available to you when you subscribe today.

More World Politics Review