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The EU: An Obituary

A major account of the failings of the European Union—and why it has to go
The European Union is a besieged institution. It is struggling in vain to overcome the eurozone crisis and faces an influx of refugees not seen since World War II. The Schengen Agreement is a dead letter, and Britain stands on the brink of leaving altogether. The EU is unfit for the challenges of the coming age of increased global competition and high tech. In sum, the drive for an “ever-closer union” has set Europe on the wrong course: plunged it into depression, fuelled national antagonisms, debilitated democracy, and accelerated decline. In this pithy, rigorously argued book, leading historian John Gillingham examines a once great notion that soured long ago.

From its postwar origins, through the Single Market, to the troubles of the present, Gillingham explains how Europe’s would-be government became a force for anti-democratic centralization and inept policy-making. Brussels has inspired a world of illusion that now threatens to undo the undoubted achievements of integration. The EU: An Obituary is an urgent call to the political Left, Right, and Centre to act before it is too late.


  • “John Gillingham has established himself as one of those very rare commentators who can read European history in three dimensions.”
  • “An excellent, up-to-date history of the EU which overturns many preconceived ideas and challenges the views of Eurofanatics and Eurosceptics alike.”
  • “John Gillingham is the pre-eminent American historian of the European Union.”
  • “At a time when clear thinking about Europe’s political and economic future is urgently needed, John Gillingham has provided a convincing diagnosis of the EU’s present malaise and a challenging set of prescriptions which deserve to be taken seriously by Euro-philes as much as by Euro-sceptics.”
  • “As a means to take corrective actions and ultimately save the EU, Gillingham pursues a historically driven reassessment of the EU’s past aimed at examining missteps, discovering subsequent solutions, and offering a glimpse into a potential future. In light of the its uneven course during its years of formation, expansion, and consolidation while currently faced with systemic threats, the EU requires fundamental reforms to remain relevant in an increasingly globalized international system.”


  • What to do in Europe? Proposals from the Left

    The second Ιnternational Conference of EReNSEP (The European Research Network on Social and Economic Policy), "France and Europe after Brexit", was held in Paris December 2-3, 2016. Videos from the event — including presentations by Costas Lapavitsas, Heiner Flassbeck, Stathis Kouvelakis, and Cédric Durand — are available on YouTube

    The collective statement below was drafted following the conference, and signed by 25 academics, writers, and politicians.

    via Wikimedia Commons

    These are critical moments for Europe. It is clear that the Economic and Monetary Union has irrevocably failed, the economies of the periphery of Europe remain in severe crisis, and the economies of the core lack any impetus. The single currency has become a tool for Germany to implement mercantilism through wage dumping and — with the support of other core economies of the EMU — to dictate “structural reforms," which create economic stagnation, poverty, and unemployment. The big corporations and promoters of neoliberalism are taking advantage of the crisis to intensify their offensive against the social and democratic conquests of the twentieth century.

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  • Three Objectives for the Left in Europe

    25 researchers and political organisers from France, Greece, Spain, Germany, Italy and Belgium have put their names to this collective text, following the international conference France and Europe after Brexit. The conference was staged in Paris on 2 and 3 December 2016 by the Europe-wide EReNSEP network. Translated by David Broder. 

    Europe has entered a critical period. It is evident that the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) has irrevocably failed. The economies on the periphery are suffering severe crisis, and the economies of the centre are stagnating. The single currency has become an instrument of German capitalism as it seeks to impose a mercantilist economic policy through wage dumping as well as to dictate "structural reforms" (and it is supported, in this, by the other economies at the centre of the EMU).

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  • Deconstructing ‘The Jungle’, Reconstructing the British Border

    Heaven Crawley responds to the eviction of 'The Jungle' camp at Calais, arguing that it is largely a symbolic attempt by the British government to reassert 'control' over borders in the context of Europe's political crisis. The eviction, and the reinforcement of the wall alongside the port of Calais, does not address the refugee crisis and the diverse reasons for why people move. Professor Heaven Crawley leads research on migration and human security at the Centre for Trust, Peace and Social Relations at Coventry University. She specialises in aspects of international migration, including policy, public attitudes and the experience of refugees and asylum-seekers.

    Violent Borders: Refugees and the Right to Move, Reece Jones' exploration of the refugee crisis, focusing on how borders are formed and policed, is 40% off until Sunday, 30th of October at midnight (UTC).

    Yesterday, the UNHCR announced 2016 has become the deadliest year on record for people trying to cross the Mediterranean seas to Italy and Greece, with more than 3,800 men, women and children died or were reported missing. Borders kill, of that there can be no doubt.

    The violent borders of which Reece Jones speaks so powerfully in his excellent book are now so much a feature of our everyday lives that it’s difficult to be shocked by what we see and hear. Images of bodies washing up on European beaches would engender a sense of horror and outrage a year ago, yet they now pass us by. Today we see desperate people waiting to be rescued in rubber dinghies that have taken in water, creating an oily chemical sludge, in which some of their fellow travellers lie lifeless. A human soup of bodies rotting in the heat of the sun. Still no one seems to care, much less do anything.

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