The world’s quiet superpower

Anyone speculating about the future of the EU should start with one simple fact: it is a success of epochal proportions. This is true for two reasons: it delivers good policies and it provides democratically accountable, limited government.

First, EU policies and institutions are functional: they work well to address real problems. What began 50 years ago as a form of Franco-German entente writ large stands today as the model for a continent. Substantively, the EU has progressed as a customs union, a single market, a currency area and a foreign policy power. Something up to 25% of European legislation – not the 80% figure often quoted – is negotiated in Brussels. And its last decade has been its best: the introduction of the euro, a deep-ening single market and increasingly coher-ent internal and external security policies. EU expansion, subsuming ten former communist states, not only demonstrates Europe’s appeal, but has proven to be the surest exercise in democracy promotion since the end of the Cold War – surely more cost-effective than the American blunder in Iraq. In any respect except the projection of massive ‘hard power’, the EU is the world’s ‘quiet superpower’.

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