The German Intellectual Debate about the 'Finalité' of European Reformation. A Noteworthy Rejection of a European Federal 'Nation State'

(2012)Paper presented at the Second International Euroacademia Conference 'The European Union and the Politicization of Europe', Budapest, , 6-8 December 2012.


For some months, a vivid intellectual debate takes place in the German press about the “finalité” of on-going European reformation. Its participants aim to widen the focus for a longer perspective. They seem to share the impression that the actual decision-making in European politics is lacking such an idea of the future of Europe and is driven by one wave of the unfolding crisis after another. Despite many fundamental controversies among them, almost all reject quite naturally the outlook of a European federal “nation state”. At first glance, their arguments seem very comprehensible. A complete “communitisation” (in the sociological sense of Tönnies’ distinction between “community” and “society”) of Europe and European politics (that does amount to a fully developed European federal “nation state” with a powerful European parliament at its core that democratically elects, controls and legitimizes European government) would be an excessive demand for the centuries old national traditions of political independence, cultural autonomy and solidarity. Accordingly, it seems reasonable to respect these and to restrict the EU to a limited form of supra-national cooperation between independent nation-states, which conclude intergovernmental contracts. However, the story seems to be more complicated. With the crisis of the EU, it has become obvious that with the inauguration of the economic and monetary union, the EU states lost an immense amount of national independence and sovereignty and already passed the line of limited contract-based interstate cooperation that follows the logic of “societalization” and not of “communitisation”. They now deeply depend on each other and are in need of joint action, which thoroughly affects their lives. They increasingly resemble a “totality” of a common live, of a “community”, but without perceiving themselves as such, i.e. as a developing new Nation “Europe”. My paper should explore some reasons and barriers for this.



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