Étienne Balibar at Eurozine:
The history of European construction is long enough to have traversed many distinct phases or stages, each tightly linked to the transformations of the “world-system”. It is convenient to identify them by way of the correspondence between the successive extensions of the European system and the growing complexity of the institutions that ensure its integrity while managing the unstable equilibrium between national sovereignty and communal governance. There are, arguably, three stages: the first stage, from the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) to the aftermath of the 1968 events and the oil crisis (without forgetting Richard Nixon's shock assault against the Bretton Woods system); the second stage, from the early 1970s to the fall of the Soviet Union and the German reunification in 1990; finally, the last stage, from the Eastward growth to the crisis generated by the bursting of the American speculative bubble in 2007 and, in Europe, the sovereign defaulting of Greece which was averted at the last moment under well-known circumstances in 2010.
Does the current moment signify the beginning of a new phase? I do think so, even if the tensions that we are observing are only the consequence of a forced entry into globalization, which has dominated the politics of the community for twenty years – or perhaps for this very reason: these national and social tensions have reached a rupture point. A period of uncertainty and of fluctuation has begun and with it the possibility of a new crossing, the terms of which are unpredictable.