Andrew Moravcsik Defends Europe
I recently suggested that Europe can survive as an economic union -- especially if it wants a stable euro that will eventually serve as the currency for the entire EU -- only if it moves toward greater centralization (while also overcoming its democratic deficit), but in his article "In Defense of Europe" (Newsweek, May 30, 2010), Princeton University professor and expert on the EU Andrew Moravcsik disagrees with me:
European countries consistently find common solutions not because they are sentimental believers in the European ideal but because they inhabit the world's most economically interdependent continent. They have no choice but to cooperate. Witness the result of the May currency crisis: a stronger Europe but without the extreme centralized federalism some advocate.I guess that "extreme" is always bad, but Moravcsik admits some movement toward more centralization:
[A] "United States of Europe" has long been the dream of European federalists. Some movement in this direction can be discerned. European leaders will meet next month to discuss a new stability pact, with real penalties for noncompliance.But he thinks that it won't go far:
Yet there are limits to any centralized strategy . . . . Brussels has no mandate to dictate national solutions in sensitive areas like pensions, social welfare, and labor flexibility. Such policies succeed only when they reflect carefully crafted deals among parties, unions, and businesses specific to particular countries. Governments jealous of their sovereignty are loath to transfer these policies to technocrats.Yes, those are barriers, but if the European Central Bank is to have more power to protect the euro and enforce a common economic policy, then greater political centralization seems inevitable to me. Moravcsik believes differently, perhaps based on some musicological belief in a concert of Europe, or at least the EU states' concerted interests grounded in realism:
The EU is succeeding because its policies are not based on idealism but on the recognition that a union of diverse nations can find realistic ways to work together. The commitment of Europeans to one another is not unconditional, as federalists believe, but it is stronger than skeptics fear. The European style of muddling through may be unglamorous, but it works. Those who bet against the economic self-interest of European governments are likely to lose.Muddling through does work pretty well . . . until it stops works. The British muddled through an empire so well that they muddled their way out of one.
Perhaps the EU's muddling will blaze a different path even without seeing the forest for the trees.