chapter  7
European Union: a process without a subject
Pages 19

The European Union (EU) is a confusing thing. It often presents the character of a state. It has its own money. It has a parliament. It has laws, a government and a court of justice. It is commonly talked about as a single entity. People will say, ‘Europe must reform its agriculture’, or ‘Europe favours the Kyoto agreement’. Yet, confusingly, the EU still consists of 25 sovereign states: France, Germany, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxemburg, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Denmark, Spain, Portugal, Greece, Austria, Finland, Sweden, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Poland, Hungary, Malta, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Slovenia and Slovakia with Bulgaria and Romania expected to join in 2007. Each of these states also have parliaments, laws, governments and courts, with jurisdiction over the same territory as those of the EU. Not a few of these states, whether Germany or Britain, France or Italy, are considerable powers in their own right, as well as members of the EU. Commonly, the Union is talked of as a ‘superstate’, implying a great merger of nations, or perhaps something greater still, like an empire (the term was popularized by Margaret Thatcher in September 1988, meaning it derogatorily).1