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European Union Politics

European Union Politics (6th edn)

Michelle Cini and Nieves Pérez-Solórzano Borragán
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date: 29 November 2023

p. 42528. The Future of the EUlocked

p. 42528. The Future of the EUlocked

  • Brigid Laffan


This chapter is structured around four scenarios on the future of the EU: ‘Disintegration’, ‘Piecemeal Adjustment’, ‘Functional Federalism’, and ‘A European Sovereignty’. The chapter argues that, although systemic disintegration is unlikely, there are disintegrative fissures in the EU arising from Brexit, the victories of secessionist movements in Catalonia, and heightened political volatility across the continent. The political battle concerning the future of the Union is a battle that cuts across all four scenarios. It is evident that disintegrative fissures cannot be ignored. ‘Piecemeal Adjustment’, the dominant response to the EU crisis and to events on Europe’s borders, continues to have resonance, as does ‘Functional Federalism’, defined as further integration but in specific fields. The fourth scenario, ‘a European Sovereignty’ has re-emerged on the political agenda with the election of French President Macron in May 2017. The discussion of the four scenarios is followed by a review of the external challenges bearing down on Europe and the Franco-German relationship as intervening factors that will shape any future scenario for the EU.

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