Judy Asks: Is this Europe's time for political union?

Opinion piece (Carnegie Europe)
02 September 2015

There is no better time for a debate about political union than in the midst of a crisis. European crises reveal flaws in the way the EU works and provoke questions about whether the solution is more or less Europe.

The EU last debated political union in the early years of the Greek sovereign debt crisis. The result was cacophony: Northern member states wanted budgetary discipline for everyone, while Southerners wanted fiscal transfers from the North to offset the consequences of austerity. Leaders from both sides realized that compromising would cost them domestic popularity, so they left the discussion about political union for better days and muddled through the crisis instead.

But better times are still not on the political horizon. Now the EU also faces the biggest refugee crisis of our time. And once again, there is no consensus that political union is the answer. Germany argues that the crisis could stimulate the next great European project; Central European leaders are deaf to Chancellor Angela Merkel’s calls. They fear her ideas amount to empowering the European Commission to force member states to accept refugees.

The EU will probably muddle through again, leaving the debate on political union for later. But if European leaders continue prioritizing national over shared European interests, the European project is unlikely to see better times in the near future.

Read the full article here.