|Picture credit: Horatiu Ferchiu|
Fellow blogger Horatiu Ferchiu has posted an interesting article on the case of the UK in the EU, titled "Soft secession in the EU?". Here is the 'short' comment I left on his blog:
This is a very interesting approach indeed. I shall leave the parallels with the American state-building process and its related struggles to others who are more knowledgeable on the topic. Allow me to add a few more words on the theme of the euro-bloc which is of particular interest to me and which is among the main themes of my blog (by the way, thanks for the link).
The ideas on federalism notwithstanding, European integration was initiated as a project of international (intergovernmental) cooperation, effectively falling within the spheres of 'foreign affairs' and 'international trade'.
Though one may identify a number of ideas behind the initiation of the European integration process, it is my humble opinion that a thoroughgoing inquiry into the matter will leave us with two fundamental principles underpinning all things 'European':
- National sovereignty: The governments of member states were eager to enjoy the 'increasing returns to scale' deriving from accession to a broader economico-political community. Nevertheless, none was prepared to overcome the powerful social imaginaries that dominate European statesmanship at least since the Treaty of Westphalia (1648) and the French Revolution (1789), viz. state sovereignty and nationalism (the latter term is not used to describe 'far-right' parties–this is a misunderstanding and a misuse of the original term, since in its actual meaning it refers to the precedence one offers to the perceived collective ontology of the 'nation' over individuals domestically or of nations/individuals abroad). This was mainly made manifest in the praxis of consensus politics, or more lyrically if you wish, with the respect of–and search for–the Aristotelian golden mean,
- Economic liberalism: The Member States would harmonize their policies to dismantle trade barriers among them, so as to realize the potential of a free (free-er) market in Europe (Western Europe at the time). However, contrary to the liberal doctrines, the ends of free trade would be achieved by the meticulous application of mercantilist means. States agreeing to 'mutually' remove barriers to trade are not challenging the principle of such restrictions, but only reconsider its scope and extent. This is important as it does not remove the possibility of such barriers being reintroduced, should conditions, perceived or real, necessitate such action. The case of migration controls that you mention is but the tip of the iceberg and the issue certainly transcends the UK problématique since other Member States have also resorted to similar modes of conduct. The point is that the idea of mercantilism was never challenged as such, but was merely reconfigured to suffice the political ambitions of the time.
For reasons which I need not enumerate in the present comment, this system was rather sclerotic and could only result in maladministration or, even worse, end up in what we may call 'planned chaos'. Whatever progress was achieved in the years between the Treaty of Rome and the Treaty of Maastricht was in large part thanks to the rulings of the European Court of Justice. For instance, it is the ECJ's jurisprudence that consolidated the four freedoms of the single market.
The limitations of the original modus operandi were readily apparent, so with the Treaty of Maastricht European leaders took the timid, yet radical, decision to shift from the principle of consensus to the praxis of enhanced cooperation. The creation of the Economic and Monetary Union (the Euro) was the epitome of this change in approach and, most importantly, it heralded the start of what may I may term "Eurocore politics", i.e. the idea of a European two-level state emerging within the EU architecture, eventually usurping the latter.
I will not delve on the Eurocore politics here, since this is something I effectively do on a regular basis through my blog posts. What I may say is that the direction Mr. Cameron has pointed to is but the counter-force to the momentum of integration that has been developing ever since 1992.
The important particularities and detail complementarities aside, what we are witnessing here is a mutually reinforcing dynamic of divergence, while the Euro-state emerges as a sovereign entity on the continent, smaller in terms of membership than the EU, but far more significant in all other respects.
The above was just the prolegomenon to a more elaborate analysis I intend to write in the coming days, so stay tuned if you happen to be interested.
Article source: http://www.protesilaos.com/2013/01/uk-secession-eu.html
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