The Left needs a Better Conversation on National Sovereignty

EU flagAs many parts of Europe continue to suffer from the Eurozone crisis and austerity, and as populist and far-right political parties continue to gain in importance, voices of the left across Europe are reclaiming the concept of national sovereignty. Renaud Thillaye, Deputy Director of Policy Network, examines these arguments, and suggests that the member states might be able to achieve freedom, and the capacity to act in their interests, only in and through the EU.

Gone are the days when talking about national sovereignty was associated with backwardness and narrow-minded conservatism. Everywhere in Europe, a section of the left is standing up to reclaim this concept and explain that regaining control over one’s own country’s destiny is a priority. The debate is particularly vivid in the UK and France.

In the UK, Owen Jones popularised the idea of ‘Lexit’ (the left version of Brexit) in July, which prompted reactions by Caroline Lucas and Philip Cunliffe on the Current Moment blog. More recently, Paul Mason dubbed the EU an “undemocratic semi-superstate”. On the account of Greece’s acceptance of a third bailout package and the sidelining of Yanis Varoufakis, Jones argued that the EU was killing national democracy and that there was no space within the EU for progressive solutions. Over the summer, Jones supported Jeremy Corbyn, whose initial ambiguity over EU membership can be seen as another element of the renewed yearning for sovereignty on the left. Since then, the new Labour leader made clear he would fight for a more social Europe from within. Continue reading