Sir Robert Cooper

    is a British diplomat and special adviser to the European Commission based in London. In his book-length essay, the Post-Modern State, he introduced the idea of a “new liberal imperialism”. His ideas played a key role in the implementation of European security and defence policy, and since the days of Tony Blair Robert Cooper has been regarded as the driving force behind current EU foreign policy. “The threat that the EU now faces is, in its way, as deadly as the one that confronted the Habsburg Monarchy a hundred years ago. Instead of the uncontrolled expansion of armies and navies of the early twentieth century, when few understood the implications of the new military technology, we live today in a world of uncontrolled global financial markets dealing in instruments that few comprehend. And the crisis strikes at the heart of the EU. If the EU ceases to be a bringer of prosperity but becomes instead a cause of impoverishment, it too will collapse. Because, unlike the Habsburg Monarchy, the EU is not a state but a community of states, its collapse will not begin at the centre, but at the edges. If it ever dies, it will do so with a whimper, rather than a bang. This fish rots from the tail, not the head. The explosion will come not in Brussels but on the streets of Athens, Rome or Madrid. Perhaps we are seeing the first signs. And if the explosion comes, it will bring down with it the open borders, the single market, the practice of cooperative relations with others, the collaboration in many fields, and at its centre the good political relations that have delivered peace and a sense of community over fifty-five years.”