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.
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.
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).
I was at the University of Tampere, Finland, August 27-29 to deliver a keynote presentation entitled “Theorizing the Power of Ideas and Discourse in Governance beyond the Nation-State” for the Sixth Conference on “Power & Governance: Forms, Dynamics, Consequences” at the Institute for Advanced Social Research (IASR).
The agenda of the conference was to probe whether something general can be said about the forms, dynamics and consequences of power and to study what the alternative ways to approach the issue are and what kind of irreconcilable contradictions there are. Plenary sessions were held on the following topics: power relations, global governance, power and knowledge, and critique of power.
I am deeply honored to have been named Chevalier (Knight) in the French Legion of Honor. The prestigious designation, honoring individuals who have contributed to the advancement of French arts and culture, will be presented at a decoration ceremony in the fall of 2018 by Valéry Freland, Consul General of France in Boston.
The French Legion of Honor is an order of distinction first established by Napoleon Bonaparte in May of 1802. It is the highest decoration bestowed in France.
I am participating this week in the 25th International Conference of Europeanists (March 28-30) at the InterContintal Chicago. The theme of this year’s gathering, organized by the Council for European Studies, is Europe and the World: Mobilities, Values, and Citizenship.
I was honored to be the discussant for Craig Calhoun’s opening keynote speech “Populism, Nationalism, and the Fate of Democracy.” Calhoun is President of the Los Angeles-based Berggruen Institute, which works globally to advance knowledge of great transformations shaping the human future.
On February 22, I took part in a panel discussion entitled “Is Differentiated Integration Unavoidable for Europe?” at the CEPS IDEAS LAB 2018 “Europe — Back on Track”, an annual event of the Center for European Policy Studies (CEPS) in Brussels gathering Europe’s top decision makers and thinkers to discuss all the major issues confronting the EU. The EU might now move forward on a number of fronts as indicated in major speeches by President Macron and other European leaders: securing the external border, reforming the governance of the euro and creating a common capacity in the field of defense and external security.
Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker opened the debate, to which several of his colleagues contributed together with a number of prominent MEPs and national policy makers. The Foreign Minister of Belgium, Didier Reynders, gave the closing remarks, together with Lilyana Pavlova, the Bulgarian Minister for EU Presidency. Ivan Krastev delivered the final academic lecture.
My panel discussed differentiated integration as one method of striking a balance between unity and asymmetry that also has the merit of preventing political gridlock. At a time when Europe is being buffeted by various countervailing forces, should we expect more inclusivity or differentiated integration in the EU27? How can we accommodate more flexible ways of integration without creating a hard dichotomy and isolating certain member states? Do the EU institutions need to adapt their composition and procedures to accommodate various differentiated integration modes? How can political, legal and administrative unity be assured overall? I was joined by Frank Schimmelfennig, Professor of European Politics, ETH Zürich, and CEPS Researcher Sophia Russack, who moderated.
Abstract: All three of the traditionally recognized new institutionalisms – rational choice, historical, and sociological – have increasingly sought to ‘endogenize’ change, which has often meant a turn to ideas and discourse. This article shows that the approaches of scholars coming out of each of these three institutionalist traditions who take ideas and discourse seriously can best be classified as part of a fourth ‘new institutionalism’ – discursive institutionalism (DI) – which is concerned with both the substantive content of ideas and the interactive processes of discourse in institutional context. It argues that this newest of the ‘new institutionalisms’ has the greatest potential for providing insights into the dynamics of institutional change by explaining the actual preferences, strategies, and normative orientations of actors. The article identifies the wide range of approaches that fit this analytic framework, illustrating the ways in which scholars of DI have gone beyond the limits of the traditional institutionalisms on questions of interests and uncertainty, critical junctures and incremental change, norms and culture. It defines institutions dynamically – in contrast to the older neo-institutionalisms’ more static external rule-following structures of incentives, path-dependencies, and cultural framing – as structures and constructs of meaning internal to agents whose ‘background ideational abilities’ enable them to create (and maintain) institutions while their ‘foreground discursive abilities’ enable them to communicate critically about them, to change (or maintain) them. But the article also points to areas for improvement in DI, including the theoretical analysis of processes of ideational change, the use of the older neo-institutionalisms for background information, and the incorporation of the power of interests and position into accounts of the power of ideas and discourse.
On November 1, 2017, I gave a talk at the Center for German and European Studies entitled “What leadership for Germany in the EU, faced with rising populism and euro-fatigue?”
The talk centered around the following questions: What leadership will Germany bring to the EU in coming years, given a weakened Chancellor, a potentially fractious government coalition, and a rising populist opposition in the Bundestag for the first time? How will Merkel respond to the new French leader’s ideas about deepening integration, in particular on the Eurozone? How will she deal with the on-going refugee crisis, and the growing divisions between East and Western Europe? How Merkel deals with these challenges may very well determine the future of Europe in the near term.