Today, nearly seventy years later, over 500 million people live in the member states of the European Union – a greater number than in any other political community save for China and India. The currency of the Union, the euro, is used in economic transactions world-wide. Yet the EU is mired in the greatest crisis of its history, one that threatens its very existence as an entity able to have an impact upon world affairs. Europe no longer seems so mighty, instead but faces the threat of becoming an irrelevant backwater or, worse, once again the scene of turbulent conflicts. Divisions are arising all over Europe, while the popularity of the Union sinks. How can this situation be turned around?
It is a mistake, argues Anthony Giddens, to see the misfortunes of the euro as the sole source of Europe's malaise. The Union faces problems shared by most or all of the developed states of the world. Reform in Europe must go far beyond stabilizing the euro, formidable and fraught though that task may be. Introducing an array of new ideas, Giddens suggests this is the time for a far-reaching rethink of the European project as a whole.