Europe’s Crisis of Legitimacy: Governing by Rules and Ruling by Numbers in the Eurozone

vivienlectureThis morning I gave a keynote lecture on “Europe’s Crisis of Legitimacy: Governing by Rules and Ruling by Numbers in the Eurozone” for the EU Horizon 2020 research network RECONNECT at the Norwegian Embassy’s Norway House in Brussels.

Although ‘Brexit’ and the refugee crisis have grabbed today’s headlines, the European Union’s sovereign debt crisis continues. The Eurozone’s comparatively poor economic performance and continued political divisiveness have combined with processes focused on ‘governing by rules and ruling by numbers’ to generate an on-going crisis not just of economics and politics but also of democratic legitimacy. I argue that the EU’s (euro) crisis of legitimacy centers on problems related to (a lack of) policy effectiveness, political responsiveness, and procedural quality. But she also contends that in pursuit of legitimacy as much as in response to deteriorating economics and increasing political volatility, EU institutional actors—ECB, Council, Commission, and EP—incrementally reinterpreted the rules and recalibrated the numbers ‘by stealth,’ that is, without admitting it in their public discourse. To theorize about such processes of ideational innovation and discursive legitimation during the Eurozone crisis, I use the neo-institutionalist framework of discursive institutionalism.

Rethinking Europe: Celebrating Helmut Schmidt at 100

I participated this morning (February 22) in an international symposium at the Körber Forum in Hamburg Germany on occasion of what would be Helmut Schmidt’s 100th birthday. The event — “Rethinking Europe: Celebrating Helmut Schmidt at 100” — was organized by the Federal Chancellor Helmut Schmidt Foundation.

I spoke on a panel entitled “Keeping Europe United: Institutional Remedies for Countering Anti-EU Populism” along with Anna Diamantopoulou, President of the DIKTIO Network for Reform in Greece and Europe and former EU Commissioner and Greek Government Minister; Simon Hix, Harold Laski Professor of Political Science at the London School of Economics and Political Science; Ivan Krastev, Chairman of the Centre for Liberal Strategies in Sofia and Permanent Fellow at the Institute of Human Sciences in Vienna; and Pascal Lamy, President Emeritus at the Jacques Delors Institute, former EU Trade Commissioner, and former Director General of the WTO. The session was moderated by Henrik Enderlein,President and Professor of Political Economy at the Hertie School of Governance and Director of the Jacques Delors Institute Berlin.

The Rhetoric of Discontent: A Transatlantic Inquiry into the Rise of Populism

On Wednesday, February 20, I gave the annual Max Weber Lecture at the European University Institute on “The Rhetoric of Discontent: A Transatlantic Inquiry into the Rise of Populism.” The lecture was introduced by Stefano Bartolini and chaired by Mirjam Dageförde.

The rise of what is often called ‘populism’ constitutes the biggest challenge to liberal democracy since the 1920s or 1930s. The voices of populist dissent speak in different languages but mostly convey similar messages-against globalization and free trade, immigration and open borders, Europeanization and the euro. They draw from the same range of sources-the economics of those feeling ‘left behind,’ the sociology of those worried about the ‘changing faces of the nation,’ and the politics of those who want to ‘take back control.’ And they employ rhetorical strategies via social media to create ‘post-truth’ environments that reject experts, demonize conventional political elites and parties, and excoriate mainstream media while using them to amplify their messages. The question is: Why and how have populists had such success today in channeling public fear and anger? Scholars often respond by focusing on the sources of discontent—economic, social, or political—and trigger moments. But a complete answer demands an investigation of what populists say, meaning the substantive content of leaders’ ideas and discourse; how they say it, involving the discursive processes of interaction via activist social movements, party networks, and direct links with ‘the people;’ and what they do, in opposition and/or in power in their differing national contexts.

You can view the lecture on YouTube:

Ahead of the lecture, I talked with Mirjam Dageförde on the present state of Europe, politics at the time of populism, and what should be the response of academics. A video of that conversation can also be found on YouTube.

Democracy in Europe Talk in Brussels

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I just gave a talk on my 2006 book Democracy in Europe for the European Parliamentary Research Service in Brussels. The book itself was named by the European Parliament in 2015 as “one of the 100 books on Europe to remember.” The event, in interview form, was part of their book talk series with authors of important books on Europe. The talk was introduced by the Director-General of the Research Service, Anthony Teasdale, and the Discussant was Deputy Direct General of the Council Secretariat, Jim Cloos. A podcast of the talk is available: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/cmsdata/160480/1003.MP3. Enjoy!

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Summit on the Future of Europe—Back to Square One

DrRfP2aXcAEEhkxOn Monday, November 5, I participated in the Summit on the Future of Europe—Back to Square One at Harvard University’s Center for European Studies, presenting on the panel: “The Challenges of European Integration or Disintegration.” Other speakers included John Dalhuisen, Senior Fellow at the European Stability Initiative (ESI) and Kyriakos Pierrakakis, Director of Research at diaNEOsis Research and Policy Institute. The panel was chaired by José María Beneyto, Professor of International Public Law and International Relations and Director of the Institute for European Studies.

The Summit on the Future of Europe is an initiative of the Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies (CES) at Harvard University. Since 2014, this annual conference convenes scholars and public leaders to debate critical challenges facing Europe. The fifth annual Summit is a partnership of CES, the Harvard Kennedy School’s Project on Europe and the Transatlantic Relationship, diaNEOsis Research and Policy Institute, European Stability Initiative (ESI) and Central European University (CEU).

Here is a video of the panel:

Talks on Europe’s Crisis of Legitimacy and the Rhetoric of Discontent in Vancouver, British Columbia

I was in Vancouver recently to deliver two talks. On October 18, I gave a presentation on “The Rhetoric of Discontent: On the Transatlantic Rise of Populism” at Simon Fraser University’s political science department. On October 19, I gave a presentation on “Europe’s Crisis of Legitimacy: Governing by Rules and Ruling by Numbers” as part of the Institute for European Studies “European Transitions Series” at the University of British Columbia.

Europe’s (Euro) Crisis of Legitimacy

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On October 11, I gave a talk on “Europe’s Crisis of Legitimacy: Governing by Rules and Ruling by Numbers in the Eurozone” at McGill University’s Jean Monnet Center. The lecture was recorded and is available on YouTube (see below).

Here is an abstract of the talk:

The policies and processes adopted by the EU in the face of the euro crisis have in fact exacerbated long-standing problems of EU legitimacy and solidarity. Democratic legitimacy has suffered because Eurozone policies have failed to produce good outcomes and because EU citizens have even less say than ever over those policies. Indeed, the excessively intergovernmental processes of Eurozone crisis governance—in which the European Central Bank acts, the member-state leaders in the European Council decide, the European Parliament is side-lined, and the European Commission serves as a secretariat—have unbalanced the EU’s long-standing “democratic” settlement in which all three latter institutions pulled their weight. By “governing by the rules” and “ruling by the numbers,” EU institutional actors seem to have forgotten that democratic legitimacy demands not just rules to follow but policies that both work and appeal to the citizens.

Germany’s Role in the European Union and the Transatlantic Relationship: 1998-2018

On Oct 7, 2018 I participated on the panel “Germany’s Role in the European Union and the Transatlantic Relationship:1998-2018” for the Twentieth Anniversary Celebration of the Center for German and European Studies at Brandeis University: Reflecting on the Past, Envisioning the Future: The Center for German & European Studies at Brandeis turns 20. The panel explored how Germany’s role in Europe shifted between 1998 and 2018, what it means, what effects Brexit and right-wing populism are having, how the EU is dealing with these challenges, and what will likely happen in the coming years. A link to the program can be found here.

European Union Studies Association Lifetime Achievement Award

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I have learned that I will be receiving the European Union Studies Association (EUSA) Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2019 EUSA International Biennial Conference in Denver next May.

The plenary honoring Schmidt at the conference will include Tanja Börzel (Freie Universität Berlin), Matthias Matthijs (Johns Hopkins University), Kalypso Nicolaïdis (University of Oxford), Fritz Scharpf (Max Planck Institute and recipient of the 2007 EUSA Lifetime Achievement Award), George Ross (Université de Montreal and recipient of 2017 EUSA Lifetime Achievement Award), and Alberta Sbragia (University of Pittsburgh and recipient of 2013 EUSA Lifetime Achievement Award).

More information about the prizes can be found here: https://www.eustudies.org/about/eusa-prizes

The Lifetime Achievement Award honors a scholar in the field of EU studies whose lifetime of research and writing have been important, enduring, and widely felt influences on EU scholarship.