The Idea of a European Superstate: Public Justification and European Integration -Book review

“The Idea of a European Superstate : Public Justification and European Integration” is a book written by Glyn Morgan, the basic idea of which, as the name suggests, is to provide a justification for the political integration of Europe and why it should integrate itself even further. His motive, as he mentions himself in the preface, behind the book is to solve the ‘puzzle’, the puzzle of Eurosceptics and the justification for the political integration of Europe.

The issues and the points raised by Morgan are quite interesting and something to ponder upon, which does not necessarily mean that I agree with everything he says and argues about, but, nonetheless, they are worth noting. One of the most interesting and important things that he argues about is the ‘Justification’, a justification for the existence and continuation of the entity called the “European Union”. The majority of the existing literature on the EU debates its political legitimacy, or the democratic deficit in the concept of the European Union, and how it can be narrowed down. Everyone talks about which political arrangement promotes better legitimation of the existence of the European Union, but Morgan asks even a deeper question: How can we justify it? He arrives at this question by differentiating between projects, processes, and products of European integration.

Now, according to him, there are three requirements that must be met for the ‘justification’ through a democratic lens: the first is “publicity,” which means that the idea of the given arrangement should appeal to the people of Europe; the second is “accessibility,” which basically means that the arguments should be simple enough for ordinary Europeans to understand; and the third is “sufficiency,” which means that the arguments should convince Europeans that there are benefits to tighter integration of Europe.

Morgan then moves on to the next chapter, where he discusses “nationalism” in Europe and how the concept of visceral nationalism is threatening the concept of tighter European integration, as some people begin to believe that the concept of European Union is threatening their “national identity.” This chain of thoughts eventually metamorphose into becoming ‘Eurosceptics’. The idea of “Euroscepticism” is further developed in a deeper manner in the next chapter .

The fourth chapter primarily focuses on arguments related to economic and social justification for the European Union. The arguments posed in this chapter basically discuss the issues pertaining to the common market and how it works.

The last three chapters are primarily focused on Morgan’s own justifications for the tighter integration of Europe. This is the part where, majorly, he poses his own arguments and thoughts. He discusses, in chapter five, how security should be the main justification behind the idea of the European Union. According to him, in this twenty-first century, security shouldn’t just be understood in terms of nation-states; rather it must be citizens that should be protected and secured. In the next chapter, he argues about “post-sovereignty”. He discusses the theories presented by MacCormick, Weiler, and Schmitter and argues that theories by each of them understate the impact that post-sovereignty can have on the internal and external security of the state. In the next chapter, “post-sovereignty” is discussed further, alongside “Sovereign Europe”.

According to Morgan, a “European Superstate”, as the title of the book suggests, should be the final goal in the process of tighter integration of the European Union. Only then, according to Morgan, will Europe be able to guarantee its security. He argues that most of the European political leaders want to see Europe as a superpower in the world but without transitioning into a ‘superstate’, which is, according to him, not possible. He gives the example of the United States of America. He says that the US would have been a much weaker state if security and foreign policy had not been centralised. He argues that centralisation of certain pillars of political arrangement is important for the security of Europe, or else Europe would always have to be dependent on other countries for its security, in this case, that being the USA through NATO. According to him, if Europe becomes self-sufficient in its security, then it will not have to let itself be dragged along and support US foreign policy, which it does not agree with, as in the case of Iraq’s invasion in 2003.

Morgan’s emphasis on security as the main driving force and justification for tightening political integration in Europe is what I do not agree with as there are many other aspects to consider in this highly globalised world, like economic aspects, etc. Most people in Europe, who support the creation of the European Union themselves, appreciate the different aspects of the European Union. Rather than embracing the security aspects, they appreciate the spread of western-democratic values by the means of the economic integration of Europe. Moreover, there are also some downsides to the centralisation of decision-making for security purposes. Centralisation will put the decision-making of going to war with another state in the hands of a few people, which could lead to involvement in war for dubious reasons.

Another thing which Morgan argues about and I do not agree with is the economic model he proposes for Europe. He says that Europe should, at least, have an economy that is as productive and vibrant as the US. We can have a long debate about which model is better among the two. But Morgan, himself, has not given enough reasons and evidence as to why he prefers one over the other for Europe.

There are some aspects in the book which I agree with and with some I do not, and moreover, this book was published in 2005, and since then there have been many developments when it comes to the European Union, like Brexit, etc., but still, I will say there is a lot to be admired about this book. Some arguments are well constructed and are persuasive enough, and the book contains very valuable information to understand and analyse the process of European integration. So someone with a background in international relations should read this to better understand the European Union. For a layman, it might be a bit hard to read as the author bases his argument on international relations theories. But if one can invest time in understanding it, then it’ll be a good read.

 The Idea of a European Superstate: Public Justification and European Integration By Glyn Morgan” (ISBN – 0-691-12246-6)

Pulkit Parteek
Pulkit Parteek
I am a 2nd year student pursuing Master's in Diplomacy, Law, and Business from O.P. Jindal Global University, Sonipat (Haryana).