Financial TimesFinancial Times

The EU’s future in a world of deep disorder

By Martin Wolf

07 Mar 2023 · 4 min read

Europe's experiment in "perpetual peace" is at risk from nationalism and great power conflict. Can the EU adjust to the new world order? Not without reforms, argues the FT's Martin Wolf.

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“The Law of Nations Shall be Founded on a Federation of Free States.” Thus did the great German philosopher Immanuel Kant lay down the foundations of his plan for a “perpetual peace”. No part of the world has embraced his idealism more completely than post-second world war Europe. Yet is this great dream now dead?

The British diplomat Robert Cooper argued brilliantly that we can divide the world into the “pre-modern”, by which he meant the parts where anarchy reigns, the “modern”, by which he meant the world of nation “states”, and the “post-modern”, by which he meant Europe’s effort to create a federation of states, as Kant had called for. Cooper argues that “what came to an end in 1989 was not just the Cold War or even, in a formal sense, the Second World War . . . What came to an end in Europe (but perhaps only in Europe) were the political systems of three centuries: the balance of power and the imperial urge.”

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