The End of the Eurocrats’ Dream

The premise of this timely and important book is that the Euro crisis has placed the EU in an existential predicament that cannot be resolved in the usual fashion of yet more of the same. Though there is surprisingly little by way of a sketch of what might have been the Eurocrats’ dream, the reader is left in no doubt that we are currently living through what might best be termed the Eurocrats’ nightmare – a form of governance that falls far short of the current challenges confronting the EU, and is indeed partly promotive of them.

What then is (or was) the noble dream, and what is the nightmare into which we have descended. Broadly speaking, the dream was that of Jean Monnet as later theorised and defended by functionalists such as Ernest Haas, whereby cooperation and integration through technocratic governance in crucial economic areas, starting with coal and steel – the resources essential for waging war, would gradually spill over into ever more areas, securing peace and promoting prosperity along the way, with popular support for a more unified Europe following in its wake. This was the functional argument for integration by stealth, supported by a ‘permissive consensus’. As the editors remark, its justification lay in the dual claims that ‘scaling up’ and technocratic rule at a distance offered appropriate ways to manage the negative externalities and provide for certain global common goods associated with the increasing interdependence of states, whilst at the same time offering a more impartial perspective, insulated from domestic electoral pressures, that could help overcome rent seeking by national and sectoral groups ...

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