1st Edition

Against European Integration The European Union and its Discontents

By Ivan T. Berend Copyright 2019
    192 Pages
    by Routledge

    192 Pages
    by Routledge

    This book gives a complex description and discussion of today’s populist attacks against the European Union (EU) following the financial crisis of 2008, which opened the floodgates of dissatisfaction, and the migration crisis which destabilized the traditional solidarity basis of the EU. The problem of Brexit is also explored.

    Each chapter presents one of the main elements of the crisis of the EU. These include West European populism, Central European right-wing populism in power, and the exploitation of the EU’s mistake during the migration crisis of the mid-2010s. These also include the discovery of Christian ideology against immigration and hidden anti-Semitic propaganda using a hysterical attack against the liberal billionaire philanthropist George Soros, and Brexit. There is a detailed discussion of the failures of the EU to pacify the neighbourhood in the South and North, especially in Ukraine, and the rising hostile outside enemies of the EU, including Russia and Turkey, bad relationships with Trump’s America, the uncertainty of NATO, and the emergence of a new rival, China, that enters into the Central European edge of the EU.

    The author explores strategies for coping with, and emerging from, this existential crisis and ends with the alternative plans and possibilities for the future of the eurozone. This will be an invaluable resource for understanding the crisis of the EU, one of the central questions of contemporary international politics for undergraduate and graduate students, and readers interested in the discussion surrounding an endangered European integration and difficult world politics.


    1. Existential crisis, the possibility of disintegration and the European Union in the 2010s
    The rise of an existential crisis: the economic factors. Migration crisis and its connection with Europe’s demographic crisis. Muslim terror atacks. Populist attacks against the EU. Recognition of the existential crisis. The outside factor: loosening and hostile neighbors. Deep crisis is over, but are new ones coming? Escaping forward?

    2. Inequality within and among member countries undermined homogenization and became a source of discontents
    Capitalism and inequality. Increasing inequality within the EU countries. Inequality among member countries of the EU.

    3. The political representation of discontent: disappearing traditional political parties and rising populism
    From class to national parties. Old mass parties are disappearing. Melting down of the social democratic parties. Rising populist parties. Central political issues for populists.

    4. Brexit and its possible impact
    Joining late—leaving early. ‘Hard’ or ‘soft’ landing? The Chequers plan. The consequences of Brexit.

    5. Anti-European Union Populism in Western and Southern Europe
    Liberal democracy and its multi-ethnic culture. Why became populism triumph in Britain? Wilders, Le Pen and others. Populist defeats and victories, 2017–2018.

    6. Populism flooded Eastern Europe and the Balkans—undermining the EU
    Real home for populism. The eastern part of Germany. The region left behind. The reverse migration crisis of the region. The crisis of 2008 and austerity policy—authoritarian nationalism.

    7. Christian Europe? The use and abuse of Christian values and the populist debate
    Populism and Christianity. The special feature of East European nationalist interpretations of Christianity. Christian values and how they influence European life? Pope Francis’s differing interpretation of Christian Europe.

    8. The demonization of George Soros and its real meaning in Central and Eastern Europe
    Right-wing anti-Soros hysteria all over. Putin’s Russia gave the signal. “Let’s not leave Soros the last laugh”. Anti-Soros mania in Eastern Europe. Soros’s view on immigration in Europe. The “Secret Message” of anti-Soros hysteria.

    9. Is the European Union a neoliberal construction that deserves to be destroyed? A debate with left-wing attacks
    Does attacking the EU equate to anti-neoliberalism? Globalization or regionalization? End of globalization? the increasing importance of regionalization. Austerity policy as exploitation of peripheral countries? Serving the oligarchs? The straitjacket of euro and national sovereignty. Real causes of revolt: social shock caused by complex societal changes.

    10. Outside discontents on the outside: the weakening alliance with the US, a hostile Russia, and Turkey and China at the borders
    A loosening alliance with the US. The failure to keep Turkey in the EU’s orbit. The failure of the Balkans’ policy towards the EU. The failure of the EU’s southern and eastern neighborhood policies. Russia against the EU: its counter attacks and provocations. Europe’s dangerous oil dependence on Russia and the EU’s plans to eliminate it. China is entering the ring: the Balkan Silk Road.

    11. Out from crisis or between crises? The EU of the future
    Steps of further integration: the road towards a fiscal and banking union. First steps towards a European army. Alternatives for further integration. Plans for the future of Europe.



    Ivan T. Berend is a Distinguished Research Professor at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), USA. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences; the British Academy; the Academy of Europe; and the Austrian, Hungarian, Bulgarian, and Czech Academies of Sciences. He was President of the International Historical Association between 1995 and 2000, and is author of 35 books.

    "Ivan Berend brings the sensibility of a leading economic historian whose personal history means he can see the European Union both from the inside and from the outside. He can see its promise yet note its failings. But he also sees that its current ‘existential crisis,’ as he calls it, means we must choose to either go forward with the bold experiment or slip back into the bad old ways that the EU in its origins was designed to transcend" — John Agnew, author of Globalization and Sovereignty: Beyond the Territorial Trap

    "I highly recommend reading this book by a world-wide well-known expert author who presents a concise analysis of the given situation of the European Union, surrounded by enemies and attacked by populist-nationalists inside, but still strong enough to reinvent itself and positively influence the future history of Europe and the world." — László Valki, Professor of International Law, Eotvos Lorand University, Budapest

    "The EU created peace, democracy, and prosperity in a war-torn Europe; yet, it is now troubled. Why? How can it be saved? Students, opinion leaders, and the wider public should read Ivan Berend’s elegant, succinct latest book to find answers." — Daniel Chirot, Herbert J. Ellison Professor of International Studies, University of Washington

    "Populism is a political and ideological challenge to the EU – and potentially an existential threat. This book is a timely summary of its rise and how the EU can reinvent itself without sacrificing its core values." — Jonathan Portes, Professor of Economics and Public Policy & Senior Fellow, UK in a Changing Europe