Research & Studies

The Birth of a New Sovereign

„European integration is not an end in itself but a stage on the road to the organized world of tomorrow.”

– Jean Monnet

What is the European Union?

This question is probably one of the most important and most contradictory of present days. The responding attempts in the past years have strained the creativity of political thinkers and also social scientists. JACQUES DELORS considers the EU as an „indefinable political object” („un objet politique non-identifiè”), PHILIPPE C. SCHMITTER calls it ’non-state’ and ’nonnation’. Though, it is less complicated to identify the EU with the lack of something than positively. The lack of the constitution, the lack of the European demos, the lack of the social legitimacy, etc. These are more characteristic and prominent features than the existing common policies or other ‘positive’ attributes, because they symbolize goals that were envisaged long ago and still not accomplished. The indefinable political objects create great expectations therefore they are constant sources of dissatisfaction.

Researchers – according to their theoretical convincement and political sympathy – described it as a pro-federation, concordance system, quasi state, miscellaneous political and state community, commonwealth (Staatenverbund), consortium (consortio), condominium (condominio), regulatory state, market community, managed society, co-federal coalition, mixed common-wealth, etc.

For obvious reasons some authors emphasize the unsettled, mixed, or ambiguous aspect. LAFFAN emphasizes the ‘betweeness’ particularly that it „hovers between politics and diplomacy, between states and markets, and between governments and governance.”1 According to CHRYSSOCHOOU, the EU is not only a social scientical puzzle, but also an open outcome political project: „a federal, confederal and cosociational political community”.2 The modernity of this trans-national formation is also emphasized by a lot of experts. WALKER calls it heterarchical political space „that combines unity and multiplicity, transcendens preexisting borders and projects a multi-dimensional configuration of political authority.”3

In a recent paper CLAUS OFFE raises the question: What does Europe implies and essentially what does it mean for us? OFFE points out a sensible issue: the lack of the mobilizing sense, „the relieving sense”. Offe argues that Europeans are not permeated by the sense that something new and inevitable should come about: „the core problem of the European integration is less the ethnic, cultural, linguistic or economical diversity, but rather the total absence of allurement of the evolution in which the unity needs to be achieved.”4 This impetus is strongly missing from the EU citizens; consequently they do not express enough enthusiasm and political willingness towards the enlargement or the creation of a reunited ‘New Europe’. Europeans en masse do not grasp the importance that with the enlargement they would reach a higher level of freedom. OFFE has right in saying that Europe in its actual state hardly bears the „promise of evolving”, the mobilizing power without it would be hard to imagine the successful achievement of the grandiose task of widening and deepening.

Read more on the Institute for Social and European Studies website.