The Left, the Nation-State, and European Citizenship

The Left, the Nation-State, and European Citizenship

As the European Union (EU) moves steadily toward fuller political integration in the form of the single European currency, attitudes on the left toward projects of supranational governance remain ambivalent. Currently in Britain, the Labour Party under Tony Blair presents itself as markedly more Euro-friendly than the defeated Conservatives, but historically the two parties have not always aligned themselves in this way. Both parties have been divided between pro- and anti-Europeans, but until the arrival of Margaret Thatcher, enthusiasm for the European project ran higher among the Conservatives. On the Labour left, membership in the European Economic Community (as it was called then) was seen as imposing a straitjacket of economic orthodoxy on the policies of national governments, and although this point of view has become heretical under New Labour, we can expect to see it expressed more often as the debate about whether to join the single currency heats up. Equally, pressures from big business will in due course force the Conservative Party to moderate its present Euro-skeptic stance.

The same confused picture, with parties swapping positions over time, can be found in other EU member-states. Can we say any more here? Should parties of the left be more enthusiastic, or less enthusiastic, than parties of the right for transnational groupings like the EU as a matter of general principle, or is it simply a matter of assessing each proposal as it comes along? How should we think about this question?

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Lima