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For a Sovereign Europe

Sophie Heine

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.

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Chapter 1: From National to European Sovereignty


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From National to European Sovereignty

The partial Europeanization of an increasing number of policies have slowly undermined national sovereignties without creating genuine sovereign powers at another level. More precisely, the sharing of sovereignty encouraged by European integration in crucial matters has progressively led to its dramatic weakening. Yet, without an effective sovereign power, governments cannot adequately respond to citizens’ needs and preferences. An enhanced feeling that a strong sovereignty is needed thus clashes with the diminishing powers of national governments.

We will start this chapter by examining the possible definitions of sovereignty and, after discarding its most frequent definition, we will propose our own, more demanding, approach to that concept. We will then show how far national sovereignties have been eroded by the partial Europeanization that has taken place over the last decades in an increasing number of fields. Finally, we will argue in favour of a European, rather than national, rehabilitation of sovereignty.

Is sovereignty still alive and effective?

To defend our argument that sovereignty is no longer effective, we first need to clarify what we mean by this concept. The academic, intellectual and political debates on this subject often use various definitions of sovereignty which explain the variations in the replies offered to the question, ‘Is sovereignty still alive and effective?’. Many of those who believe that state sovereignty still exists usually consider this notion in a formal, ← 1 | 2 → discursive...

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