Europe’s leaders see the need for “more
Europe” to deal with the euro crisis but do
not know how to persuade their citizens,
markets, parliaments or courts to accept
it. This is the root of Europe’s political
crisis: the necessity and impossibility of
integration. European integration has been
defined by two contradictory but mutually
reinforcing forces that operate on both the
European and national level: technocracy
and populism. But the more technocratic the
EU has become, the more it has provoked a
populist backlash. European leaders are now
unable to solve the euro crisis because they
can only force inadequate solutions through
loopholes in the Lisbon Treaty.
Four routes towards solving Europe’s
institutional crisis are now emerging:
asymmetric integration by working around
the existing treaties; a smaller, more
integrated eurozone based on the existing
treaties; political union through treaty
change; and a deal among a new vanguard
through a Schengen-style treaty. There
are also calls to strengthen each of the
three traditional channels for democratic
participation in order to restore legitimacy:
European elections, referendums and
national opt-outs. Whichever of these options
Europe ultimately chooses, the challenge will
be to solve the acute euro crisis without at
the same time exacerbating the chronic crisis
of declining European power.

Publish Date:
ECFR European Council on Foreign Relations

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