Legitimacy Lost, but then Regained?

On Tuesday, November 27, I gave the European Studies Centre Annual Lecture 2020 at Oxford University, with upwards of 70 people attending via zoom.

My talk was entitled, “Legitimacy Lost, but then Regained?  EU Governance during the Eurozone Crisis, the Migration Crisis, and the Covid-19 Pandemic.”

The abstract of the talk is as follows:

Unlike in ‘Paradise Lost’, the EU committed no original sin of commission, but it did commit a number of sins of omission over the past decade that cast doubt on its legitimacy.  When the Eurozone crisis hit, instead of common solutions promoting prosperity for all, the European Union ended up ‘governing by rules and ruling by numbers’ in the Eurozone, resulting in excessive economic hardship in some countries and rising populist Euroscepticism everywhere. When the migration crisis hit, instead of fully addressing the humanitarian concerns, the EU stuck to the Schengen area rules that didn’t work, as some member-states barricaded their borders, and populism flourished. In both crises, the legitimacy of the EU’s governing activities—procedural, performative, and political—were in question, as the poor quality of EU governance undermined policy performance while generating increasingly toxic politics.   In the Covid-19 crisis, these policies were reversed, as the EU sought common solutions while suspending the rules for economic and migration policy.  So does this mean that the response to Covid-19 represents ‘Paradise Regained’?  Professor Schmidt will provide preliminary answers to this question as she discusses the nature, scope, and dilemmas of legitimacy for the EU in the midst its many crises.


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