The future of the European Union (EU) has never been the subject of so much intense scrutiny, with academic analysts, media commentators and think-tank pundits all weighing in on the subject of its current misfortunes and malaise. It is hard to believe, when faced with the post-Constitution-rejection handwringing, that, over the last two decades, the EU has successfully completed two rounds of enlargement.
The last of these, in 2004, marked the end of the post-war division of the continent, has broken down most of the barriers to commerce among its member states, and has undertaken the most ambitious experiment in economic and monetary union in history. All of this would have been unimaginable to even the most Euro-optimistic of observer, as recently as the early 1980s.
This report undertakes an analysis of the EU's progress and contemporary challenges, and proposes ways of renewing the project in four related domains: Europe's economy, its 'social dimension', its political system, and its relations with the world. Rather than a crisis, or even malaise, it argues that the EU and its member states are facing an entirely manageable process of adjustment, which requires pragmatic, rather than grandiose, solutions.
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