European political development since the Treaty of Versailles has gone through four phases. The interwar period was a time of democratic weakness and ethnic conflict that culminated in the Second World War. What followed was a period of division and yet also integration, particularly in western Europe. Western Europeans sought to transcend the nation-state through the promotion of the rule of law. The end of the Cold War suggested the victory of this civilizing mission, but that suggestion was not entirely convincing - not because of the re-emergence of ethnic conflict, but because of the increasing tension between popular and representative democracy. The economic and financial crisis brought that tension to the surface and placed a great strain on the wider integration project. The challenge is how to interpret this arc in the narrative of European history. Was unification always a dream while division remains a reality?

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)161-180
Number of pages20
JournalInternational Affairs
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2019


  • european integration


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