For a Sovereign Europe

by Sophie Heine (Author)
©2019 Monographs XXII, 106 Pages


While anti-European forces are still raging, pro-Europeans seem impotent and deprived of a strong, clear and convincing alternative. This book is an attempt to fill that void: reacting to the anti-European wave, it also outlines a strong criticism both of the current EU and of its advocates. Far from the Europeanist defence of the status quo, it proposes an original and radical project of European sovereignty. Its message is both critical and propositional.
This book is therefore original in its method, approach and content. It distinguishes itself from most of the literature on the subject by going beyond the narrow cleavage opposing mainstream anti- and pro- Europeans. In this general polemic, anti-European arguments usually promote a return to sovereignty at the national level, while pro-Europeans justify the existing EU configuration and its so-called "sharing" or "division" of sovereignty. Despite being clearly in favour of a deeper European integration in some fields, Sophie Heine refuses to throw away the classical concept of sovereign power. Relying on a rich literature and deploying a theoretical and strategic argument, she proposes to rehabilitate this notion at a supra-national level while avoiding the common traps of national sovereignty. This allows her to propose a redefinition of European federalism connected to her broader liberal approach.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Contents
  • Acknowledgements
  • Foreword
  • Preface
  • Introduction
  • Chapter 1: From National to European Sovereignty
  • Chapter 2: Sovereignty without Identity: For a New Cosmopolitan Approach
  • Chapter 3: A Legitimate European Government: A Liberal Approach
  • Chapter 4: Common Policies for a Sovereign Europe
  • Chapter 5: Realism, Agency and Individual Freedom
  • Conclusion: Practical Strategies to Build a Sovereign Europe
  • Bibliography

← viii | ix →


This book could never have been accomplished without the support and involvement of several key individuals who I would like to briefly acknowledge here.

First of all, thank you to Mark James Kelly, the man I love and the father of my children, for always believing in my intellectual value, for his love and for his tremendous energy. This book would not have been produced without his presence.

Secondly, I would like to thank my father, Hubert Heine, whose strong pro-European views have inspired me for many years and who is a wonderful co-militant within the movement Stand Up for Europe.

Thirdly, thank you to the founder of Stand Up for Europe, Richard Laub, for supporting this project all along and for his trust in my ability to finish it.

I am also grateful for the precious feedback I received on a preliminary version of the manuscript from several key members of Stand Up for Europe: Pierre Defraigne (Professor at the College of Europe and Sciences Po – Paris and honorary Director General at the European Commission), Francois Denuit (Dr in Politics, Warwick University and Université Libre de Bruxelles), Renaud Denuit (Professor at Facultés Universitaires Saint Louis – FUSL) and Paul Goldschmidt (blogger on European political and financial issues and former Director at the European Commission).

Finally, an enormous thank you to my friends, who have heard me talk relentlessly about the project for the past two years. They have always been there for me: faithful, supportive and positive, as true friends should be. ← ix | x →

← x | xi →


As a practitioner of politics, I always find it refreshing to read the work of political philosophers. This allows one to put one’s own practice into a broader perspective and results in either strengthening the foundations of one’s practice or questioning them. Sophie Heine’s book provides just such an opportunity.

For the last twenty years, my involvement in politics has unfolded at the European level, initially as part of the European Green Party, then, since 2009, as a Member of the European Parliament. I am resolutely committed to European political integration and, unlike most of my fellow Greens, I have often resorted to the concept of sovereignty to justify this commitment. That term is usually associated with the nation-state and hence is considered with a degree of suspicion by many pro-EU politicians.

My usual definition of sovereignty is the ability of a given society to autonomously make the choices that allows it to shape its future. Linking to Sophie’s book, it is therefore a positive form of sovereignty (‘freedom to’) rather than a negative one (‘freedom from’). Of course, expressed in that way, one realizes quickly that any sovereignty is bound to be limited: our future is always determined not only by our own choices but also by the laws of nature, or by decisions taken by others – or by our predecessors. However, it is also clear that when the citizens of the largest EU member states barely exceed 1 per cent of the global population, the need to act together in order to regain leverage is obvious. As the saying goes: let us pool sovereignty in order to actually reconquer it.

Sophie’s opening point may seem shocking to some, but it is well founded: the way we have pooled sovereignty in the European Union has actually led to a loss of sovereignty. As an example, we have built an economic (the single market) and monetary (the single currency) union, without correspondingly building a social and fiscal union. In doing so, we have lost sovereignty at the national level (the freedom to use all instruments – both fiscal and monetary – in order to conduct macroeconomic policy) ← xi | xii → without regaining it at the EU level: the ability to devaluate the currency is gone and the fiscal policy is now constrained both on the expenditure side (by fiscal rules) and on the revenue side (by tax competition). So, in effect, if there has been a transfer of sovereignty, it has actually gone from the nation-state to … transnational players, such as large corporations. By gaining the ability to play member states against one another, they end up being the net receivers of additional sovereignty, such as when multi-nationals practically dictate how much tax they are prepared to pay.


XXII, 106
ISBN (Softcover)
Publication date
2019 (August)
Sovereignty Euroscepticism European federalism
Oxford, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, New York, Wien, 2019. XXII, 106 pp.

Biographical notes

Sophie Heine (Author)

Sophie Heine is a Dr in Politics, novelist and author of several books on Euroscepticism, individual freedom, the left and gender equality. As a public intellectual, she conceives of her academic work as being closely intertwined with her militancy in various civil society movements. This book emerged as a combination of intellectual work (among others, at Egmont – Royal Institute for International Relations and Oxford University) and practical militancy within the European federalist world and, more specifically, in the movement Stand Up for Europe.


Title: For a Sovereign Europe
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130 pages