Jean Monnet said that we are not building a coalition of states; we are creating a union of peoples (“nous ne coalisons pas des États, nous unissons des hommes”). So no, in response to @brunobrussels, we are certainly not a union of state bureaucracies; or, at least, that’s not what we aspire to.
But what’s the reality? Has the EU successfully delivered Monnet’s vision? Or has it fallen short?
I think I answered that question partially here (Institutional Imbalance), but I still feel that Bruno deserves more of a reply. I detect in his reaction–and I hope he’ll correct me if I’m wrong–the premise that power belongs more naturally with nation states and national parliaments, and any move to transfer sovereignty to a higher tier than the nation state effectively strips sovereignty away from its democratic home.
In his excellent book ‘Guns, Germs & Steel’ Jared Diamond describes how people have historically organised themselves in ever-more-complex configurations: bands, tribes, chiefdoms, states; and then those states evolve into ever larger structures, with ever larger numbers of citizens.
Diamond argues that humans have a strong interest in forming part of ever-larger state incorporations; but also that they tend to have a strong vested interest in the status quo. As a result, they tend to resist upward incorporation even at the expense of their own longer term interests. External pressure is usually needed to force the upshift to broader political structures; but, when this is realised, it tends to benefit all members of that new, larger, political structure.
To my mind, Diamond’s thesis offers a clear understanding of the tendency towards euroscepticism but also why this tendency is an historical dead end.
The nation state is no more ‘natural’ a political unit than any other, including the EU. Arguments against the EU which are premised on the notion that the nation state has more legitimacy qua nation state than any other political structure are, I strongly believe, fundamentally flawed, and guilty of historical subjectivity.
Of course, there are those who argue that the EU’s structures are less democratically accountable than its Member States’, and that this means that sovereignty should revert to those Member State structures. But this isn’t an argument against the EU. It’s an argument–right or wrong–for reform of the EU’s structures so that they become more democratically accountable.