European integration and the problem of the state: universality, particularity, and exemplarity in the crafting of the European Union

  • Stefan Borg

DOI: 10.1057/jird.2013.8

Cite this article as:
Borg, S. J Int Relat Dev (2014) 17: 339. doi:10.1057/jird.2013.8


The European Union is often presented as an entity that has ‘moved beyond’ the model of organising political life along the way of the modern sovereign state. This paper questions this understanding by engaging a set of texts that could be understood as exemplary of the EU's official discourse of Europe: EU's failed Constitutional Treaty and Javier Solana's collected speeches. A paradox is herein identified: the values that are said to sustain Europe's identity and upon which Europe is founded are simultaneously presented as distinctly European and universal. It is suggested that Europe is being crafted in a pendular oscillation between particularising and universalising the values upon which Europe allegedly rests. By drawing on critical International Relations theory, the paper suggests that this very contradictory oscillation between particularising and universalising Europe's values to an important extent mirrors modern statecraft. One should therefore think twice before announcing the construction of the European Union as something qualitatively different from, or ‘gentler’ than, modern statecraft.


deconstruction EU foreign policy European Constitutional Treaty European integration the state 

Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Ltd 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stefan Borg
    • 1
  1. 1.Swedish Institute of International AffairsStockholmSweden

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