Everyone is calling for an urgent re-think of the European Union. With good reason. If its Presidency says the EU is in "profound crisis", it is obviously time to seek remedies. But as the recipes for fresh thinking multiply, it is equally urgent that the re-thinking is as profound as the crisis it faces. It will not be enough to parade a series of slogans, or to hide behind the imprecisions that have fogged EU arguments for so long.

This debate has not got off to a good start. The tone set by the outgoing Presidency is unhelpful. Jean-Claude Juncker's disappointment and fatigue at the end of the June 16-17 Council scarcely justifies the simplistic polarisation he has set as a framework for the discussions that the EU must now pursue.

He presented the summit outcome as a confrontation of two philosophies, which he depicts as a mutually exclusive opposition between those who want to see the EU reduced to a free trade area, and those who want a politically integrated Europe that takes full account of solidarity.

This is not merely a caricature. It is false. The options are not as limited as Mr Juncker suggests. To suggest that the EU must make a straight choice between being either a glorified single market or something close to a superstate is to disregard the complexity of the debate.


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