events archive

Charlemagne revisited? The politics and economy of the EU

6:45pm, Monday 23 May 2016, Free Word Centre, 60 Farringdon Rd, EC1R 3GA

The European Economic Community (EEC) was founded when six countries signed the Treaty of Rome in 1957. After centuries of conflict culminating in the Second World War, the EEC’s founders dreamed of a federal Europe that would put paid, once and for all, to national rivalries and create a modern power like the USA.

Since then, what is now the European Union has both expanded, to 28 countries, and deepened, with a wider range of policy areas covered by EU laws, the creation of the European Parliament and other institutions, and with the creation of a single currency, the Euro, used by 17 member states.

But just what is the EU? It is more than just a collection of national governments working together, but it is still less integrated than a true federation. Just taking the case of Britain, we are currently fully fledged members of the EU – yet we have opted out of the Euro and a number of other areas of EU competence. In a recent essay, Josep M Colomer discusses the idea that the EU is, in effect, an empire – but one more like the old Holy Roman Empire rather than a colonial master like the British Empire.

How do the EU’s institutions work and how are decisions made? What would be the effect of Britain leaving – or remaining? Does a modern, globalised world mean that sovereignty must be shared today? What does that mean for democratic accountability? What is the future of the EU, regardless of a possible Brexit?

Please arrive at 6.45pm for 7pm start.


Christian Michel
economist and writer


Unity in Diversity: the European Union as an Empire
Josep M Colomer

available via Amazon or as a free pdf download here