European Disintegration? A Fraying Union

Issue Date October 2012
Volume 23
Issue 4
Page Numbers 23-30
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Once we acknowledge that disintegration of the EU is a “thinkable” option, it becomes important to grasp what “the collapse of the Union” would mean. How can the “disintegration” of the Union be defined or conceptualized? Would the departure of just one country from the eurozone or from the EU itself amount to “disintegration”? Contrary to the expectations of some democratic theorists, the EU will not collapse because of the “democratic deficit” of European institutions. Nor will it be saved by the democratic mobilization of civil society. Paradoxically, it is widespread disillusionment with democracy—the shared belief that national governments are powerless in the face of global markets—that may be the best hope for reconciling the growing tension between the goal of further European integration and the goal of deepening democracy in Europe.