In This Review

Europe Entrapped
Europe Entrapped
By Claus Offe
Polity, 2015, 104 pp

Offe is a venerable figure in European sociology. His take on the current state of the EU is unfailingly intelligent but lightly documented, and his analysis depends to a large extent on a selective reading of secondary sources that agree with his own position. Still, his book clearly reveals how European social democrats, such as himself, face a difficult dilemma. On the one hand, they understand better than anyone that the euro fundamentally constrains the ability of states to provide the welfare spending and broad economic growth essential to left-wing goals. Yet their pro-EU ideals prevent them from turning against the euro—a task that social democrats have left to more extreme parties, whose opposition to the common currency has won them a great deal of public support. Offe’s way out is to propose a series of radical EU-level solutions, such as pan-European taxation, social welfare spending, and citizenship. His prescriptions are instructive not because they are likely to be either feasible or effective but because they are so typical of what many on the European left believe today.