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The End of the Journey

The End of the Journey

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This policy brief explores the future of the EU in light of the eurocrisis, and the resulting implications for the transatlantic relationship.
This policy brief explores the future of the EU in light of the eurocrisis, and the resulting implications for the transatlantic relationship.

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Published by: German Marshall Fund of the United States on Jan 30, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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This essay exploresthe future of the EU in light of the eurocrisis, and the resulting implications for the transatlanticrelationship. Over the past 55years, the European processunfolded as a tale of treatiesthat showed a quasi-seasonalrhythm: deepen in order towiden — from six to many more;widen in order to deepen —from a small Common Marketto ever more; and reform inorder to do both. Along the way,this development was steadilyendorsed by a preponderantUnited States that welcomedthe resurgence of its ally of choice with repeated calls forenlarging its role in the world.Of late, however, “Europe” hasbecome a contentious politicalissue, within and among mostof its members. In recent years,the single currency has beenthe most visible source of suchincreasing Euro-resentment. Yet for all the talk about theimminent demise of the EU,its members have continuedto show the same capacityfor adaptation as Europe hasdisplayed over time. This isnot the end of the journey forEurope, nor is it the end of itsaffair with the United States.
 The End of the Journey 
by Simon Serfaty 
1744 R Street NWWashington, DC 200091 202 683 2650F 1 202 265 1662E ino@gmus.org
January 2013
Paper Series
TheEuroFuture Project
In January 1958, six countries inEurope launched a modest CommonMarket as a timid rst step towardthe “ever closer Europe” they hadpledged to pursue nine months earlierin Rome. Tese countries did not holda common vision o the uture — the vision, that is, o a “union” in whichthe nation-state might be buried atlast. More pointedly, aer two suicidalwars rom which none o them hademerged truly victorious, they shareda common vision o their ailed past.How ar such memories would takethe process they were launching wasunclear. “I have never doubted,” wroteJean Monnet at the close o his lie,“that one day this process will lead usto the United States o Europe, but,”he pointedly added, “I see no pointin trying to imagine today what ormit will take…. No one can say.”
So itwas at the creation or the many whoinsisted on declaring Europe stillborn, and so it remains now or themany more who continue to declareit dead.What has been achieved over theintervening 55 years is nothing shorto remarkable. Since history was puton hold with the Franco-Germanreaty o Friendship signed in January 1963 by two aging statesmen, Presi-
1 Jean Monnet,
, (Garden City, NY: Doubleday,1978), p. 157.
dent Charles de Gaulle and Chan-cellor Konrad Adenauer, this smallEuropean Economic Community has grown in size and in depth intoa European Union (EU) o 27 statesthat, in an increasing number o signicant areas, now matters lessthan the institution to which they belong. Along the way, states thatmight have le, like France in the1960s, and states that had hoped tostay out, like Great Britain in the1970s, joined. Historians who knew all too well about the nation-state’sinherited resistance to losing its sover-eignty warned against a process they  viewed as an aberration; and realisttheorists who wrote about the state’srelentless urge or hegemonic powerwarned against a drive they dismissedas unsustainable. Yet, or over vedecades, the process unolded as atale o treaties that showed a quasi-seasonal rhythm: deepen in orderto widen — rom six to many more;widen in order to deepen — rom asmall Common Market to ever more;and reorm in order to do both — andthus submit the sovereign “I” to theintrusive discipline o a collective“we.”o be sure, an institutional stormoen marked the passing o a season.“O all the international bodies I haveknown,” once thundered Belgium’sPaul-Henri Spaak, “I have never ound
TheEuroFuture Project
Each crisis usually emergedas the catalyst for furtherinstitutional advances.
any more timorous and more impotent.”
But no suchstorm ever proved to be atal. On the contrary, each crisisusually emerged as the catalyst or urther institutionaladvances with heads o state and government agreeing,top down, that their union had become indispensable andeven irreversible, while their constituencies acknowledged,bottom up, that more union was desirable and even inevi-table: i not with each other with whom, and i not togetheras a Union how?Answers to these questions have become less convincing o late. Now, asking whether the EU has a uture is no longerthe exclusive privilege o proessional euro-skeptics. Evenor a diminishing number o true believers still willing to voice their convictions, Europes recent perormance as aproducer o auence, security, and stability has not beenencouraging, and raising doubts about the uture o theEU is very much in ashion.
Is this the end o the journey,then, or merely another time-consuming detour; and whatis to become o the equally challenged transatlantic rela-tionship that developed in the meantime to deeat war inEurope while winning a cold war or two along the way?
Taking Europe Seriously
Te 20
century was rst about the collapse o Europe,and next about the rise o U.S. power. Te latter would nothave been as complete as it proved to be had it not been orthe ormer, as conrmed by the U.S. resistance to takingthe baton o Western leadership in a post-European worldin 1919.
But having accepted an “invitation” to lead aerWorld War II, the United States insisted on a recasting o Europe
à l’américaine
, meaning, as a union.
2 Quoted in Richard Mayne,
The Recovery of Europe
(New York: Harper & Row, 1970),p. 169.3 For example, Robert J. Samuelson, “Grim Choices for Europe,”
Washington Post
, June4, 2012 and Robert C. Altman, “Europe on the brink,”
Washington Post
, June 5, 2012;Charles A. Kupchan, “Why Rescuing the euro could ruin the E.U.,”
Washington Post
, June1, 2012.4 The theme is developed at greater length in the author’s
 A World Recast: An AmericanMoment in the Post-Western World
(Lanham, Md.: Rowman & Littlefeld, 2012).
Admittedly, selling the idea o a united Europe was noeasy chore, and acting on it was no easy leap o aitheither. oo much history stood in the way, and too many skeptics, too — each new step was said to be leading toa dead end, and every setback was predicted to be atal.Troughout, however, the case or taking Europe seriously remained compelling. From within, the immediate andevenly shared gains o economic integration and politicalrehabilitation built a permissive public consensus thatenabled the emerging European institutions to manage anever-expanding
acquis communautaire
and extend it to anever larger number o states.
From without, the making o a united Europe also beneted the economic and security interests o the United States, which remained steadily supportive o the project even when a rising European voice insisted on speaking without the appropriate U.S.accent that conrmed its transatlantic vocation. In otherwords, whatever ambivalence there might be, in and amongthe states o Europe, as well as in and with the UnitedStates, was muted by the increasingly obvious act thatEurope did in act work. wenty-ve years apart, neitherFrance’s President Charles de Gaulle nor Britain’s equally orceul Prime Minister Margaret Tatcher did what they had publicly said they would — limit or leave a Europeancommunity that threatened its members’ sovereignty.Indeed, it is under their watch that the process appearedto become irreversible, past the two world wars that hadinspired its birth, during the Cold War that motivated itsgrowth, and aer the Cold War ended with new calls or awhole and ree Europe.Tus, as the century was about to close with Germany reunited but tamed and Russia reborn but shrunk, Europewas back: a proud power again, but one that had lost itsHobbesian belligerence and had come to peace with itsel and others as a centrist civilian power — a quiet super-power” and the “only other region … besides the UnitedStates to exert global inuence.” Growing numbers o citi-zens in the EU countries now seemed to take the Europeaninstitutions more seriously than their national govern-ments, and they anticipated even more Europe in theiruture, including a constitution and many other attributesthat might make o the Union started with the Maastricht
5 During the period 1961-1972, the average annual growth for the six EEC countriesranged between 4.39 percent (Germany) and 5.40 percent (France). A.J. MarquesMendes, “The Contribution of the European Community in Economic Growth,”
 Journalof Common Market Studies
(June 1986): 266-69. See Simon Serfaty,
Taking EuropeSeriously 
(New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1992).
TheEuroFuture Project
Too many European citizensfeel abused by, and increasinglyhostile to, the EU.
reaty in 1991 a virtual state by 2020.
Tese views wereincreasingly shared by not only a preponderant UnitedStates that welcomed the resurgence o its ally o choicewith renewed calls or enlarging its role in the world, butalso by the surging non-Western “rest” that projectedEurope as a leading alternative to U.S. dominance, as wellas an example o a region that could tame its past andrestore its uture.
A Fragmenting Core
Conditions have changed. Leaving a short but painulcentury o nationalist wars and institutional redemption,“Europe” has become a contentious political issue, withinand among most o its members. oo many Europeancitizens, bottom up, eel abused by, and increasingly hostileto, the EU because they disagree over what it is, questionwhat it does, neglect what it has achieved, and difer overwhat they want out o it next. As a so-called region-state,Europe, it is argued, produces too much policy or themember-states and pays too little attention to the politicso the nation-states — a sel-deeating lack o institutionalaccountability that eeds a populist mood o anti-EUsentiment.
In recent years, the single currency, admittedly announced and launched carelessly, has become the most visible source o such Euro-resentment, aimed at economicconditions that vary excessively among the 27 EU coun-tries.
But more than at any time in the past, the currentEU crisis transcends any single issue or national leader.It is a
crisis, and whether a public willingness toproceed can be rekindled in coming years will demand notonly a credible understanding o what “Europe” does and
6 Andrew Moravcsik, “Europe: Rising Superpower in a Bipolar World,” in Alan Alexandroff and Andrew Cooper, eds.,
Rising states, Rising Institutions, Challenges for GlobalGovernance
(Washington, DC: Brookings Institution, 2010), p. 152. Also by Moravcsik,see “Europe’s Integration at Century’s End,” in A. Moravcsik, ed.,
Centralization or Fragmentation: Europe Facing the Challenges of Deepening, Diversity, and Democracy 
 (New York: Council on Foreign Relations, 1998), pp. 4-5. Interestingly, expectations thatthe EU will be governed on the basis of a constitution remained high in France and inHolland a year after a constitutional draft was rejected in referendums held in bothcountries.
EU 2020 — the View of the Europeans
, Berteslmann Stiftung (September 20,2006).7 The U.S. desire for strong EU leadership in world affairs peaked at 79-80 percentin 2002-2004, but it has been falling since 2009 (from 72 percent to a decade low63 percent in 2012). The German Marshall Fund,
, p. 8.Bertelsmann Stiftung,
Who Rules the World?
(Brussels, 2005)8 Vivien Schmidt argues this point often and convincingly. For example, “Re-envisioning the European Union,”
 Journal of Common Market Studies
(annual review, 2009): 17-42.9 By the fall of 2012, according to Eurobarometer (December 20, 2012), 75 percent of the people in Germany and Sweden believed that economic conditions were good, versusless than 10 percent in 10 member states, including 9 percent in France and 7 percent inItaly, and under 2 percent in Spain and Greece.
with whom, but also specic evidence o what it can doand how, as well as a convincing vision o what Europe is tobecome and when.
France and Germany have driven Europe or the past ourdecades; they orm the core o the hard core. Now, however,Europe’s “locomotive” is running out o steam as both o its conductors are seemingly running out o time: a weakerFrance, which is growing unhappy with the EU and sufersrom renewed concerns over a neighbor it is no longerable to lead but not yet willing to ollow; and a strongerGermany, still on the whole prepared to acknowledge thebenets o EU membership, but increasingly weary o its mercurial French partner while unable to escape, andunwilling to assert, its own leadership.Te questions raised by these two countries are hardly new — about their bilateral relations, as well as abouttheir expectations or the EU. At rst, periods o inti-macy — between de Gaulle and German ChancellorKonrad Adenauer, and between their successors Valéry Giscard d’Estaing and Helmut Schmidt — were inter-rupted by moments o discord — between de Gaulle andLudwig Erhard, and between Georges Pompidou andWilly Brandt. Early in the 1980s, François Mitterrandand Helmut Kohl grew especially close, and yet late in thedecade, the French president shared Margaret Tatcher’sconcern about Germany’s reunication, as well as herdoubts about the commitment o “a new generation o Germans” to Europe.
Teir ambivalence seemed vindi-cated when Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, who had beenbarely one year old when the war ended, sought to endhis country’s subservience to France and the other leadingcountries o the Grand Alliance by making o Germany,
The EuroFuture Project
, Paper Series, The German MarshallFund of the United States, January 2012.11 Margaret Thatcher,
The Downing Street Years
(New York: Harper Collins, 1993), p.338.

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