Turbulent and Mighty Continent : What Future for Europe ?

Anthony Giddens

General information

242 pages
Polity
October 2013

Biography of the author

Anthony Giddens was educated at the University of Hull and the London School of Economics. At the LSE, he wrote a dissertation on ‘Sport and Society in Contemporary Britain’. He has taught at the University of Leicester and subsequently at Cambridge, where he was Professor of Sociology. From 1997 to 2003 he was Director of the LSE. He is currently a Life Fellow of King’s College, Cambridge. He was made a Life Peer in May 2004. He has honorary degrees from 15 universities. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Science and the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. He was the BBC Reith Lecturer in 1999. His books have been translated into some forty languages. He has sat on the board of various public organisations, including the Institute of Public Policy Research.

Giddens’s impact upon politics has been profound. His advice has been sought by political leaders from Asia, Latin America and Australia, as well as from the US and Europe. He has had a major impact upon the evolution of New Labour in the UK. He took part in the original Blair-Clinton dialogues from 1997 onwards.

Anthony Giddens was born in Edmonton, North London. He was the first member of his family to go to college. He remains a dedicated supporter of his local football team, Tottenham Hotspur.

Presentation

A « United States of Europe », Winston Churchill proposed in 1946, could « as if by a miracle transform » that « turbulent and mighty continent ». « In this way only », he continued, « will hundreds of millions of toilers be able to regain the simple joys and hopes which make life worth living ».

Today, nearly seventy years later, over 500 million people live in the member states of the European Union – a greater number than in any other political community save for China and India. The currency of the Union, the euro, is used in economic transactions world-wide. Yet the EU is mired in the greatest crisis of its history, one that threatens its very existence as an entity able to have an impact upon world affairs. Europe no longer seems so mighty, instead but faces the threat of becoming an irrelevant backwater or, worse, once again the scene of turbulent conflicts. Divisions are arising all over Europe, while the popularity of the Union sinks. How can this situation be turned around?

It is a mistake, argues Anthony Giddens, to see the misfortunes of the euro as the sole source of Europe’s malaise. The Union faces problems shared by most or all of the developed states of the world. Reform in Europe must go far beyond stabilizing the euro, formidable and fraught though that task may be. Introducing an array of new ideas, Giddens suggests this is the time for a far-reaching rethink of the European project as a whole.

Extracts
« We should be clear about what is at stake here. On the face of it, the advent of the euro lies behind all this turmoil, doubt and hostility. This is true on a concrete level. The EU will stand or fall depending upon whether the euro crisis can be effectively dealt with. However, as I have argued in this book, what the introduction of the euro has done is to force the EU to come to terms with its own history – with structural inadequacies that have in the past essentially been held together with sticking plaster. Getting Germany to agree to give up the D-Mark, against the wishes of most of the country’s population, was supposed to weaken the German economyin relative terms and bind an expanded Germany into the Union. It has worked more than would appear on the surface For all the talk of the coming of a « German Europe », Germany is actually heavily dependent on its fello eurozone members. Germany is forced to be European not only because « Never again » is taken very seriously, but because the country is intrinsically bound into the euro. Its success has been brought about in some part because of its membership of the single currency. Germany stands to lose as much or more in relative terms as other members of the eurozone should the currency collapse. The central difficulty in Europe is not German dominance as such, but the incapacities of EU1, both in terms of lack of democratic involvement and in terms of the absence de leadership. » p.210-211

Reviews

« Rich in insights on conceptualising problems and identifying solutions. »
LSE Review of Books

« A significant intervention into the debate about Europe’s future. »
Gerhard Schröder, former Chancellor of Germany

« An indispensable book at a time when clear thinking about the EU is vital. Deserves to be actively debated across Europe at such a critical juncture in the continent’s history. »
Javier Solana, former EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Secretary-General of NATO

« In the 1980s the famous Cecchini Report played a crucial role in fostering the single currency. I expect this book by Tony Giddens to play a similar role in the creation of the more integrated Europe essential to us all twenty five years later. »
Giuliano Amato, former Prime Minister of Italy

« A great book bout the possibilities for European social democracy in the modern world. »
Progress Online

« From the perspective of a new entrant country like Romania, Giddens’ views are as relevant as they are to the founding member states. A must-read for all who are concerned about Europe’s future, whatever shade of opinion they may hold. »
Ana Birchall, MP and Member of the European Affairs Commission, Romanian Parliament

« …Giddens succeeds in cutting through much of the turgid intramural debate on Europe to offer a clear diagnosis of the European Union’s dilemma, and a powerful argument in its favour. »
Survival: Global Politics and Strategy