It makes no sense, states André Lebeau in this article, to compare Europe with the United States, since they are so different and Europe is made up of states “with strong identities and a heavy burden of history”.
The process of European unification is indeed advancing, despite national resistance, and the responsibility for the gradual nature of its forward march cannot be attributed to the European authorities, given the extent to which they — particularly, the Commission — still lack the real prerogatives required for the exercise of power. The member states are to blame for this. But the European dimension will increasingly assert itself — in the first instance through the adoption of a common economic policy and a common foreign policy — provided that, when confronted with current challenges, the Union consolidates itself rather than fragments. Though conscious of the obstacles European construction has run up against, André Lebeau nonetheless concludes that, “with a little optimism, the need for European unity will tend to prevail over the temptation to regress towards nationalist fantasies and a break-up of the European space”.