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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 5: Realism, Agency and Individual Freedom


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Realism, Agency and Individual Freedom

Our view on European integration is part of a much larger perspective on progressive change. What would be the point of deeply refurbishing the course of European integration if it were not to contribute to a more just society?1 And if we agree that a sovereign European government should serve such a purpose then we also need to reflect on the underlying strategic and ideological challenges this poses.

This chapter will first stress common pitfalls in the approach to social change that pervade pro-European circles. More specifically, we will depart from all idealistic and deterministic tendencies and will, instead, plea for an interpretation of historical change that is both realistic and agency-focused. We will define those terms before using them since they refer to broader historical and theoretical debates. This will then allow us to outline our realistic and agency-focused vision of ideas, explaining why a convincing progressive ideology is absolutely crucial in bringing about genuine change. We will finish by briefly delineating our ideal society of free individuals. Indeed, European sovereignty only makes sense if it contributes to building a more just society for all.

A realistic utopia and a broader ideology encompassing it would help federalism become more appealing and concrete for the average citizen and would also contribute to the clarification of the European project federalists are fighting for. There are currently numerous divisions among pro-Europeans that...

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