In This Review

Is the EU Doomed? (Global Futures)
Is the EU Doomed? (Global Futures)
By Jan Zielonka
Polity, 2014, 120 pp

Zielonka is an intellectual provocateur in the best sense of the word. He has previously likened the EU to an empire; now, he claims the union is doomed to disintegrate into the governmental equivalent of polyphonic music. Underneath that strained analogy lies a serious point. Arguments over the future of Europe tend to fall into two extreme camps: the EU must either centralize power in Brussels and become a technocratic United States of Europe, as federalists advocate, or it must grant power back to national governments, as British conservatives and others desire. Zielonka argues, entirely plausibly, that neither idea would work. He suggests that decentralized networks of businesses, civil society groups, independent government agencies, EU officials, and European citizens should interact with one another in open-ended, nonhierarchical forums tailored to different issues. Some might object that such a vision simply repackages the EU as it already functions. Others might protest, as globalization theorists have for years, that any arrangement that does not formally allocate political responsibility is bound to be dysfunctional, and even dangerous. Yet this book will stimulate debate on Europe’s continuing multinational experiment.