THE PROJECT OF European integration (as I have defined it) entails a fundamental transformation of Europe's current intergovernmental political system. In its sovereignist form, this project involves a transition from a Europe of nation-states to a unitary European state—something akin to a “United States of Europe”—a shift in the locus of ultimate political authority from national governments to a European government. In its postsovereignist form, this project involves the creation of a new type of polity that disperses political authority on a policy by policy basis to a variety of bodies located at different jurisdictional levels (local, national, and European). Critics of the project of European integration are correct to think that changes of this magnitude require a robust justification.1 Europhiles have been surprisingly reluctant to provide such a justification. Some do little more than seek to persuade us that a unitary Europe state would be feasible.2 Others like to argue that the European Union's current institutional flaws can be remedied only by greater political integration.3 And still others try to maintain that the EU is already a postsovereign polity that does not need any further fundamental justification.4 These approaches do nothing, however, to address the normative challenge posed by eurosceptics, a challenge that deserves a more forthright response.
This chapter does not supply a specific justification for the European project. This chapter merely sets the stage by defending a standard of justification that arguments in support of the European project ought to be able to satisfy. This metalevel approach is worth undertaking, because it is not immediately clear what counts as an adequate justification for European political integration. In the absence of a prior account of the types of argument that belong in this context, it is impossible to weigh the very different empirical, conceptual, and moral claims that are brought to bear in arguments over European integration. Consider, for instance, Bruce Ackerman's argument that “there are abundant reasons for ordinary people to mobilize for a federal Europe” (emphasis added).5 Among these abundant reasons, Ackerman lists the following: (1) to avoid nationalist-inspired interstate conflicts, (2) to avoid an impending “environmental crisis” that “cannot be solved within state