Patrick McCarthy is Professor of European Studies at the Bologna Center of the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University. His most recent book is The Crisis of the Italian State.
"The voluntary transfer of monetary sovereignty from the national to the European level is unique in history. However, it should not be seen as a single, isolated event. The introduction of the euro is part of the process of European integration. . . . The aims of European integration are not only, or even primarily, economic. Indeed, this process has been driven and continues to be driven by the political conviction that an integrated Europe will be safer, more stable and more prosperous than a fragmented Europe."
-- Wim Duisenberg, president of the European Central Bank, May 1999
One should take Duisenberg's statement with many grains of salt: why do bankers love saying that money is not what really matters? Certainly European unity is driven by history, culture, politics, and economics -- if only because one cannot really separate these things.
Despite its present weakness, the euro represents the highest peak yet reached in the long climb toward integration. But as the 1997 Amsterdam Treaty shows (and the low turnout in the last European Parliament elections recently underscored), Europe's institutions are weak. Polls proclaim that the sense of European identity is feeble. As Kosovo demonstrated, a common security policy lags far behind the common currency. Charles de Gaulle argued that a state is fully legitimate only if it can defend its citizens. But the fateful decision in 1954 to reject the European Defense Community (EDC) -- which would have created a small, integrated army with officers and soldiers of various nationalities serving in the same units -- meant that Europe was doomed (or perhaps lucky enough) to become an economic power that relied on the United States to defend it. Whenever the Russian bear let out a roar, the Europeans appealed to Washington to save them. And with security issues out of the way, they focused on economics instead.
In simplified language, this is what Andrew Moravcsik's book is about. It argues that the European Union (EU) is neither the reincarnation of Charlemagne's empire nor a virtuous
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