To persuade the British, we must appeal to their pride and not be afraid to stand on the shoulders of Winston Churchill, who famously called for a United States of Europe. We should also speak to Britons’ sense of realism: European integration is a reality, and the future of each European country depends in its own way on it. Just as the end of the euro would be a disaster for the UK, leaving the European institutions hardly seems an option, given the need for Europe to regain its status in a globalised world of rising powers.
Giddens proposes a federalist strategy that would maintain a two-tier system for the long-term. Consolidation of the eurozone means a federal solution is needed, and fast. Giddens wants, in parallel, to see the UK play an active role in rethinking the institutions of today’s EU-28, and in an enlarged EU of the future.
But his book doesn’t set out the conditions needed to make such negotiations a success. The new Europe isn’t a done deal: negotiations on the devolution of competences to member states and their regional and local authorities, and the establishment of a directly-elected political leadership, are all likely to be very problematic. A compromise would first have to be formed on the content of these negotiations which respects the interests of all. Consolidation of the eurozone will mean tax harmonisation, a single labour market, and a proper budget, and it’s far from clear whether such measures are compatible with British visions of the future EU. But although Giddens leaves this question unanswered, his ideas for putting industry, networks, climate and energy policy centre stage are extremely valuable.