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

On Tuesday, November 15, I gave the European Horizons Lecture at the University of Michigan. The lecture was organized by the Weiser Center for Emerging Democracies and co-sponsored by the Center for European Studies, the International Institute, the  Weiser Center for Europe and Eurasia, and the European Horizons Group.

Although “Brexit” and the refugee crisis have grabbed the headlines, the Eurozone crisis also continues to be of major concern for the European Union. The EU’s comparatively poor economic performance and increasingly volatile politics have combined with its focus on “governing by the rules and ruling by the numbers” in the Eurozone to generate a crisis of democratic legitimacy. In this lecture I theorize this legitimacy crisis in terms of problems with “output” policies, “input” politics, and “throughput” processes. I argue that in response to such problems, EU institutional actors—ECB, Council, Commission, and EP—all incrementally reinterpreted the rules and recalibrated the numbers “by stealth,” that is, without admitting it in their public discourse. 

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