Making Sense of the EU: Competing Goals, Conflicting Perspectives

Issue Date October 2003
Volume 14
Issue 4
Page Numbers 42-56
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Although in many ways the European Union has been remarkably successful, it is a profoundly ambiguous creation Competing interpretations view it as an essentially intergovernmental organization that remains a creature of its member state; as the germ of an emerging federal state; as some kind of middle ground between these two; or as a novel kind of political entity that is variously characterized as a “postmodern,” “neomedieval,” “post-state,” or “nonstate” polity. It has been able to advance despite this ambiguity, but with EU enlargement and the drafting of a Constitutional Treaty by a European Convention chaired by Valéry Giscard d’Estaing, it will face new challenges. A key question is whether the EU—or any international organization—can succeed in democratizing itself without becoming a state.