A new book shows why the ever-closer union is not a givenby Alex Dean / February 20, 2018 / Leave a comment
Published in March 2018 issue of Prospect Magazine
In the wake of the “Leave” vote of 2016, the question of what Brexit will mean for Britain has received endless attention. Rather less discussed, over here at least, has been the question of what Brexit means for the European Union. How refreshing to see it tackled head-on in this new collection of essays.
Edited by Uta Staiger and Benjamin Martill (the former at UCL, the latter at the LSE), the book is divided into 28 essays (one for each current member state?). Each is written by an expert on European politics.
Among the headliners are Chris Bickerton, a Cambridge academic and Prospect contributor, and Luuk van Middelaar, former speechwriter to ex-European Council President Herman van Rompuy. Remainers and Leavers both feature; as a left-wing Leaver Bickerton’s essay is of particular interest. There is also a mix of British, European and American voices. Political, constitutional and economic issues are addressed in turn.
The end result is a wide-ranging and thought-provoking tour through the vagaries of British exit, with the question of Europe’s fate never far from sight. It’s a little messy—the essays do not always speak to one another—but that’s to be expected when the material is so varied. You learn something from every contribution.
So what are the “Futures of Europe”? The plural is appropriate: it could go any number of ways. According to Bickerton, Brexit reflects discontent elsewhere on the continent, and the project of “ever-closer union” is doomed. Elsewhere the argument is made that Brexit might encourage the EU to press on with further integration, now Britain is out of the way.
On one point all the writers agree. Brexit is a wake-up call for the EU. How it responds is an open question—but respond it must. To better understand its options going forward you should turn to this book, which has also been made free online.
Brexit and Beyond: Rethinking the Futures of Europe is edited by Benjamin Martill and Uta Staiger and published by UCL Press, £15