Both in political philosophy and in political history a long debate has been taking place questioning if States should maintain full power and sovereignty, according to the post-Westphalian formula of being superiores non recognoscentes, or rather devolve portions of their sovereign prerogatives to other political institutions and organizations. In European modern history this dilemma had led several States to believe that their own national interest was to set before and on top of universal principles: thus the idea of State supremacy had been thoroughly developed by chief of governments such as Cardinal Richelieu and Cardinal Mazzarino in France, assuming the name of raison d'état, with the purpose of draining away sovereignty from other supranational institutions such as the Holy Roman Empire and the Church. In contemporary times, the same debate is still taking place in Europe, although this time the question being posed is wether the European integration and devolution of portions of sovereignty to a supranational regional organization such as the EU is to prefer to the pursuing of selfish national interest.
First of all, it is import to remind why and when did the phenomenon of European integration start. The main purpose of the entire project was that to avoid future fraternal wars within the European continent. After all it was still very close the memory of the horrors of World War One and Two where thousands of European kinsmen fought against each other in the name of political realism and national interest. Thus It is not by chance that European integration begins immediately after the end of war, back in the 1950's. From a philosophic and ideological point of view the perspective of a deeper European integration in order to shun the dangers of new wars can be found in the political thought of men like Briand, Coudenhove-Kalergi and in the Italian authors of th so called "Manifesto di Ventotene" as well as in the political decisions of several European leaders and statesmen including Schuman, Monnet, Adenauer, De Gasperi, De Gaulle. The main choices through which the European community came to light were the adoption by France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg. Western Germany and Italy of the Treaty of Paris (1951) which created the CECA (European cooperation for the exploitation of coal and steel) and the Treaties of Rome (1957), which gave birth to the CEE (Common European market) and the EURATOM (European cooperation in the atomic and energetic field). Later, in 1965, the Treaty of Brussels merged the inner organs of the three European political bodies thus creating a single organization. Since then, treaties have been adopted to enforce and turn to efficiency the common market and the free trade area (think of the European Sigle Act of 1986) and to accomplish the creation of an economic and monetary union (consider the Treaty of Maastricht, 1992, eventually modified up to now by the Treaty of Amsterdam, 1997, and finally the Treaty of Lisbon, 2007). On the other hand, many other European countries gradually adhered to the European community through special Accession Treaties, rising the number of the EU member States to the present 28. In terms of economics, the benefits that the Union has provided have been often numerous, especially for poorer Eastern and Southern European countries, but nevertheless the adoption of the euro as a currency unit has likewise impoverished different European economies. Anyways, it is a matter of fact that the EU is still the most important global inner market in terms of volume of exchanges of goods, labour, capitals and services.
Notwithstanding, it is also true that national interest is yet greatly pivotal for the member States. This is easily understandable when we consider that the very nature of the Union is hybrid and confused. Indeed the EU still needs more cooperation among her members and a deeper form of integration. Primarily, in terms of economic union, the EU has accomplished the task to create a monetary union (EMU) through the introduction of a common currency, a coordinated system of Central Banks and her own Central Bank (ECB). However, the EU failed to enhance, or even to actually set up, a kind of fiscal union with a common fiscal policy as well as a federation of banks: it reasonable to state that the economic integration will not be terminated unless measures shall be taken to accomplish the common economic system. Secondly, in terms of foreign and defensive policies, it is still hard to behold common positions and decisions of the membership as well as coordinated actions. The area of foreign policy is where it is perhaps most perceivable the European propensity for national interest: the example of the military intervention in Libya in 2011, conceived mainly by France and the United Kingdom but with opposition coming from Germany and the ambiguous position of Italy clearly depicts the kind of portrait. Finally, in juridical terms, the EU still needs a real constitution that could effectively establish a political union under the framework of, say, a federation, or at least a confederation. Nonetheless, it ought to be added that within the EU there are some States that show to be rather careless for the sakes of the Union, being instead more oriented in domestic issues: one among these can be considered Great Britain. French president De Gaulle had already refused to allow at his time the adhesion of Great Britain to the common market beleiving that British concerns laid ultimately outside the Euroepan continent, anchored most to the special realtionship with the United States of America and with the Commonwealth. Other countries, especially those that are in the periphery of the continental landscape, eastward, southward, southeastward and southwestward, also showed in the last years an increased scepticism towards the EU.
Moreover, the current economic and fincanial crisis that struck most European and global economies with its overwhelming power did not help to ease down euro-sceptical views and movements. Although there have been speedy interventions of the European Central Bank,often helped by the International Monetary Fund, to adopt anti-crisis plans as well as to adjust the rate of interest or to grant an adequate injection of monetary liquidity in order to contain recession and to stimulate both the aggregate demand and the credit supply, these measures are to be considered insufficient. Brussel's policymakers cannot hide that EU members exist that wish to abandon the euro and to turn back to their previous currency: by so doing, they argue, it would be freely possible to take independent decisions in terms of monetary and commercial policies (e.g. Keeping the national currency devalued would automatically stimulate exportations outside the country).
As far as we can see, it can be stated that the historical struggle between universal integration on one side and national interest on the other is nowadays yet alive within the European Union. It is the Eu herself, however, to be the only master of her future: if crucial reforms will not be carried out, say the fiscal union, the banking system merging, a political union through a constitution and not just treaties, the strengthening of common positions in foreign policy and immigration. then it can be assumed that national interest will prevail, along with the selfishness of the people.