Harold James: Europe is Mired in an Existential Crisis

Roundup: Historians' Take

Harold James is professor of history and international affairs at Princeton University and professor of history at the European University Institute, Florence. He is the author of The Creation and Destruction of Value: The Globalization Cycle.

As European leaders struggle after another failed summit, they should think hard about what their continent – and the world – might look like if they continue to produce unsatisfactory solutions to Europe’s financial and economic problems.

What would follow the disintegration of the eurozone and -- almost certainly with it -- that of the European Union?...

If European integration shifts into reverse, the outcome will not be a series of happy and prosperous nation-states, living in a sort of replica of the 1950’s or 1960’s. Southern Germans would wonder whether they were not transferring too much to the north’s old industrial rustbelt; northern Italians who support the anti-EU Lega Nord in the self-styled unit of “Padania” would want to escape from the rule of Rome and the south.

Setting the clock back would thus not simply return Europe to the mid-twentieth century. The small states of the mid-nineteenth century, with no fiscal transfers out of a relatively limited area, might be recreated....

comments powered by Disqus