Under the pressure of the financial crisis, eurozone countries have been forced to move toward much deeper political and fiscal integration. While the European Union (EU) has always accommodated a degree of internal diversity, this development could relegate member states that do not use the euro—most notably the United Kingdom—to the sidelines of the EU, and lead them to renegotiate the terms of their membership or perhaps even opt out altogether. More generally, the EU seems poised to become a multi-tier construction, with a high degree of integration in the core and a variable geometry of association in the periphery. However, differentiated European integration presents critical challenges to the common market and the economic fate of the continent, as well as its geopolitical might, especially in its eastern and southern neighborhoods.
On November 29, the Center on the U.S. and Europe at Brookings (CUSE) and the Heinrich Böll Foundation hosted a discussion on the possible future configurations of the European Union and their impact on transatlantic relations. Panelists included; Steven Erlanger, Paris bureau chief for The New York Times; Charles Grant, director of the London-based Center for European Reform; and Volker Perthes, director of the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP). CUSE Director and Senior Fellow Fiona Hill provided introductory remarks, and CUSE Research Director and Senior Fellow Justin Vaïsse moderated the discussion.