There's a very interesting, and lengthy, piece in today's New Statesman
by the Cambridge academic historian, Brendan Simms. It's all of a piece with his wonderful book, Europe: the Struggle for Supremacy
in which he argues that the history of Europe since the Holy Roman Empire (HRE) has been, in effect, the history of Europe's relationship with Germany. If I remember, I'll post the link when the article comes online in a few days time. Which I have now done
But for now, the gist is that the EU has been an invention for the containment of Germany into which Germany has 'uploaded' (Simms' metaphor) its own cultural and political preference, not for political union, but for a German-dominated, HRE-style set of binding rules and procedures short of full political union. In such a model, it doesn't much matter who is in or out, provided they follow the rules laid down by the German hegemon. And it isn't a Kaiser-style German 'empire' either, though characteristics of a Germanic imperium are evident.
Simms' prognosis for the EU and the €uro(zone)? He's gloomy, I think. He thinks that, to achieve a looser fiscal accommodation with the economies of Greece, Italy, Spain and even France, Germany would need to quit the €uro! Or more probably, the €uro will implode under market pressure. Or the EU will split. Or, finally, the EU will have to adopt full political (and hence, fiscal) union. But for that to happen, he concludes waspishly, France will have to renounce its post-war policy of 'Europe for the Germans; but France for the French'