European political development since the Treaty of Versailles has gone through four phases. The interwar period was a time of democratic weakness and ethnic conflict that culminated in the Second World War. What followed was a period of division and yet also integration, particularly in western Europe. Western Europeans sought to transcend the nation-state through the promotion of the rule of law. The end of the Cold War suggested the victory of this civilizing mission, but that suggestion was not entirely convincing—not because of the re-emergence of ethnic conflict, but because of the increasing tension between popular and representative democracy. The economic and financial crisis brought that tension to the surface and placed a great strain on the wider integration project. The challenge is how to interpret this arc in the narrative of European history. Was unification always a dream while division remains a reality?