Today Europe finds itself in a crisis that casts a dark shadowover an entire generation. The seriousness of the crisis stems fromone core political contradiction at the heart of the Europeanproject: namely, that what urgently needs to be done is alsoextremely unpopular and therefore virtually impossible to dodemocratically. What must be done - and almost everyone agrees inprinciple on the measures that would be needed to deal with thefinancial crisis - cannot be sold to the voting public of the coremember states, which so far have been less affected by the crisisthan those on the periphery, nor can the conditions that coremembers try to impose be easily sold to voters in the deficitcountries.
The European Union is therefore becoming increasingly disunited,with deepening divides between the German-dominated‘core’ and the southern ‘periphery’,between the winners and the losers of the common currency, betweenthe advocates of greater integration and the anti-Europeans,between the technocrats and the populists. Europe finds itselftrapped by the deepening divisions that are opening up across theContinent, obstructing its ability to deal with a crisis that hasalready caused massive social suffering in the countries of theEuropean periphery and is threatening to derail the very project ofthe European Union.
In this short book, Claus Offe brings into sharp focus thecentral political problem that lies at the heart of the EU andshackles its ability to deal with the most serious crisis of itsshort history.