Two decades ago, an influential article lauded the European Union (EU) as ‘the most successful example of institutionalized international policy co-ordination in the modern world’ (Moravcsik 1993, p. 473). A few years earlier, in 1988, Jacques Delors – then President of the European Commission – had claimed that about 80 per cent of the socio-economic legislation in EU member states stemmed from the EU’s treaties, policies and legislation (Wallace et al. 2005, p. 3). Since then, the EU has grown – from 12 member states and 350 million people, to 27 member states comprising over 500 million people. The hubris which accompanied this growth was of a piece with the so-called ‘end of history’: the collapse of the Communist governments of Central and Eastern Europe and the apparently inexorable onward march of globalized markets. By the time the European Council met at Lisbon in early 2000, the EU’s optimism embraced not only continued expansion, but a new currency (plans for the euro were far advanced), a new constitution, and ‘a new strategic goal . . . to become the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy in the world capable of sustainable economic growth with more and better jobs and greater social cohesion’ by 2010 (CEC 2000).
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