This chapter focuses on the current state of the EU and the prospects for Europeanization. Resistance to Europeanization exists, yet the EU still exercises continued attraction to states on its periphery that are waiting for the opportunity of EU membership. In reviewing the academic debate on forms of resistance to Europeanization we first explore the literature on EU disintegration, before turning to concrete examples of member state resistance. Prompted by Brexit, as a concrete manifestation of such resistance, we then assess the difficulty for a member state to leave the EU and its sphere of influence completely. Finally, we turn to the state of play with enlargement, also highlighting the impact of Europeanization upon European states outside the EU.
Simon Bulmer and Christian Lequesne
29. The Future of the EU
This chapter is structured around four scenarios on the future of the European Union (EU): ‘Disintegration’, ‘Piecemeal Adjustment’, ‘Functional Federalism’, and ‘A European Sovereignty’. The EU is now facing the immense challenges of climate change, the accelerating digital transformation, Europe’s unstable neighborhood and the impact on Europe’s role in the world arising from the return of Great Power competition, all against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic and its consequences. The perennial questions about the EU remain—how does it collectively amass sufficient political authority to address Europe’s challenges while maintaining its legitimacy? How can it be resilient as a Union while managing the deep diversity that characterizes Europe? Disintegrative fissures cannot be ignored. Piecemeal Adjustment continues to have resonance, as does Functional Federalism,. ‘A European Sovereignty’ sometimes defined as ‘strategic autonomy’ emerged on the political agenda with the election of French President Macron in May 2017.