Protestors outside of the Greek parliament in Athens, June 2015.
Yannis Behrakis / Reuters

Brexit has galvanized numerous debates about how to reform the European Union. Since the United Kingdom’s vote to leave, countless commissioners, ministers, and presidents have acknowledged that the EU must become more flexible and responsive to citizens’ concerns. But there is a familiar pattern at work: after every crisis in the last two decades, European leaders have promised to rethink integration, only to carry on in a business-as-usual fashion as soon as the dust settles.

The debate that is now taking shape is therefore a tired one. Some believe that the EU can be saved only by accelerating moves toward a full political union. This group includes senior EU commissioners, politicians in the European Parliament, and the French and German foreign ministers. Others, including leaders in central and eastern Europe, Denmark, and the Netherlands, draw the opposite conclusion. But neither speeding integration up nor slowing it down will suffice

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  • RICHARD YOUNGS is Senior Associate on the Democracy and Rule of Law Program at Carnegie Europe, Brussels, and Professor at the University of Warwick, U.K. He is the author of ten books related to the European Union and international democracy.
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