In This Review

Turbulent and Mighty Continent: What Future for Europe?
Turbulent and Mighty Continent: What Future for Europe?
By Anthony Giddens
Polity, 2013, 224 pp

In this book, Giddens -- an eminent British sociologist, a Labour Party member of the House of Lords, and the man often credited with coining the phrase “the third way” -- seeks to renew the commitment of the British left to social democratic ideals and to European cooperation. His argument rests on solid premises: the EU helps nations manage and master interdependence; EU reforms should be federal, balancing Brussels’ power with national and local governments; and Europe is mightier (for good or bad) than most observers believe, so resolving its current malaise should be a concern even to the British. Yet Giddens’ scheme for “a federal Europe, with the eurozone as its driving force” recycles tired slogans of the Brussels technocracy. He produces a familiar wish list that includes such things as a pan-European social welfare state that assures generational equity, standardized tax policies, new trade agreements, the admission of Turkey and other worthy countries to the union, and (in a surprisingly cursory conclusion) a deepening of the eurozone, largely at the expense of Germany. This vision looks good in theory but shows surprisingly little appreciation for the devilish details of how real-world politics work or for the tough tradeoffs imposed by today’s political and economic climate.