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In the midst of the current crisis that is threatening to derailthe historical project of European unification, JürgenHabermas has been one of the most perceptive critics of theineffectual and evasive responses to the global financial crisis,especially by the German political class. This extended essay onthe constitution for Europe represents Habermas’sconstructive engagement with the European project at a time whenthe crisis of the eurozone is threatening the very existence of theEuropean Union. There is a growing realization that the Europeantreaty needs to be revised in order to deal with the structuraldefects of monetary union, but a clear perspective for the futureis missing. Drawing on his analysis of European unification as aprocess in which international treaties have progressively taken onfeatures of a democratic constitution, Habermas explains why thecurrent proposals to transform the system of European governanceinto one of executive federalism is a mistake. His central argumentis that the European project must realize its democratic potentialby evolving from an international into a cosmopolitan community.The opening essay on the role played by the concept of humandignity in the genealogy of human rights in the modern era throwsfurther important light on the philosophical foundations ofHabermas’s theory of how democratic political institutionscan be extended beyond the level of nation-states.
Now that the question of Europe and its future is once again at thecentre of public debate, this important intervention by one of thegreatest thinkers of our time will be of interest to a widereadership.