Book Review: Which European Union? Europe after the Euro Crisis

Andrew Clement, Sergio Fabbrini

While the book does create a coherent picture of EU governance in light of conflicting conceptions of what the EU should be, there remain some aspects which merit critique. First, although the selection of the Eurozone monetary crisis does present one environment in which cleavages regarding views of the EU become apparent, the author seems to imply that this one aspect of integration is representative of EU integration on the whole. The exclusive focus on the EMU thus may leave out other more variegated conceptions of the EU that are extant in other aspects of European integration. For instance, the Schengen Area not only has opt-outs from Member States but also is comprised of non-EU members despite its being an aspect of EU integration and is therefore likely to be governed differently. The picture of EU governance and institutional competences may look different when other empirical facets of integration are examined. On a related point, the author’s treatment of Member States interested in deeper political integration and Eurozone members as being practically equivalent seems oversimplified. As other aspects of the integration process, such as the free movement of persons have shown, political implications of certain aspects of integration may be more or less palatable depending on a specific Member State regardless of their standing with respect to the Euro. A venture beyond the EMU/non-EMU dichotomy would be helpful in strengthening the generalizable veracity of the book’s thesis.

In the final accounting, this book offers illuminating insight into different visions of the EU through the prism of the Eurozone crisis. While the author examines only one aspect of market integration that has clear political implications – the EMU – it nevertheless makes use of this case to demonstrate the shortcomings of understanding the EU only as unitary in nature. The possibility of understanding the EU as a union of states with differing interests creates room for further institutional redefinition and differentiation in order to smoothen the functioning of its institutions.

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This project receives funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie Grant Agreement No 722826.