Elitism, Populism, and European Politics

By Jack E. S. Hayward | Go to book overview

Council of Ministers and its substructure of committees, is the only reconciliation possible. But in the wake of the Danish and French post- Maastricht referendums, and the surge of opposition within Germany to the idea of a common currency, it is hard to imagine how any national government within the European Union (as it has now become) could persuade its voters to accept such a transfer of symbolic loyalties. The answer of the 'Eurosceptics' and nationalists in different member countries is to return essential decisions to national government, or at least to resist the transfer of any further authority. Yet the continuing integration of European economies and societies--and the decreasing viability of national defence and border controls--makes it impossible for national administrations to imagine how to reverse the process. How then otherwise to rebuild public confidence in a system of shared government which publics do not understand, which is unavoidably both highly technical and extremely complex, and which is managed by officials for whom publics have on other grounds less and less respect? That has become the central dilemma for those within the institutions of the European Union and those within national governments alike. Enlargement of the EU to the rich countries of EFTA, and thereafter to the poorer countries of East-Central Europe, can only make that dilemma more acute.


NOTES
1.
Jean Monnet, Mémoires ( Paris: Fayard, 1976), chs. 6 and 7.
2.
Official Report of Debates, 21 Oct. 1955; cited in Miriam Camps, Britain and the European Community 1955-1963 ( Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1964), 41.
3.
This argument is made most strongly by Alan Milward in The European Rescue of the Nation State ( London: Routledge, 1992), chs. 4 and 5. Milward, however, underplays both the importance of the American role in pushing West European governments together and (in his ch. 6) the extent to which the language and rhetoric in which national political leaders presented their arguments shaped their perceptions of national interest.
4.
William Wallace, "'Rescue or Retreat: The Nation State in Western Europe 1945-1993'", Political Studies, special issue: The Crisis of the Nation State, 42 ( 1994) 52-76, explores these questions further.
5.
Walter Hallstein, Europe in the Making ( London: Allen & Unwin, 1972), 60.
6.
Walter Hallstein, United Europe: Challenge and Opportunity ( Cambridge,

-249-

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