I was was in Brussels on June 16 to give a talk at a seminar hosted by the Open Society European Policy Institute and the Istituto degli Affari Internazionali based on my contribution to the IAI’s essay collection Govering Europe: How to Make the EU more Efficient and Democratic.
In the piece, entitled “The New EU Governance: New Intergovernmentalism, New Supranationalism, and New Parliamentarism,” I explain how governance in the EU has changed in recent years, what its problems are, and how it could be governed in the future.
I argue that only by by considering the actions and interactions of all three main actors together can we fully understand the “new” EU governance and its problems. I use, by way of illustration, EU’s crises of money, borders and security, suggesting that it is best to think about the future of EU governance not in terms of any hard core but rather as a “soft core” of member-states clustered in overlapping policy communities. Finally I propose ways of reinforcing EU-level capacity for policy coordination with national-level decentralisation to address problems of democracy and legitimacy.
I was in Mannheim on June 6 to give a talk entitled: “Europe’s Crisis of Legitimacy: Governing by Rules and Ruling by Numbers in the Eurozone” at the Mannheim Centre for European Social Research (MZES), in their political science seminar series. I argue that the Eurozone’s economic crisis has generated a crisis of democratic legitimacy, as deteriorating economics and increasingly volatile politics have combined with restrictive governance processes focused on ‘governing by the rules and ruling by the numbers’. I analyze this legitimacy crisis in terms of problems with the ‘output’ policies, ‘input’ politics, and ‘throughput’ processes, arguing that in response to such problems, EU institutional actors—ECB, Council, Commission, and EP—all sought to reinterpret the rules and recalibrate the numbers ‘by stealth,’ that is without admitting it in their public discourse. My talk addressed not only issues of democratic theory but also neo-institutionalist theory, by analyzing on-going processes of ideational innovation and discursive legitimation during the Eurozone crisis using discursive institutionalism.
On May 20 I was in Paris to give a talk in French on: “Rethinking the future of the European Union: Differentiated integration with more of Europe and more of the Member-States?” for the a joint conference of PHILéPOL, Université Paris Descartes, CEVIPOF, Sciences Po. Paris, and ICEE, Université Sorbonne-Nouvelle.
On May 19, I was in Rome to participate on a panel entitled: German Dominance of the Eurozone? as part of the conference: Germany and Italy in the European Union: Divergence or Convergence?, organized by the Luiss School of Government and the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung.
I was in Madrid on May 5 at the invitation of the BBVA Foundation to discuss my contribution on the EU’s impact on national democracy for their new collection of essays: The Search for Europe: Contrasting Approaches. The book is available on the BBVA OpenMind website for free download.
Spanish readers: Here is the link to an article on “The Seven Challenges Facing Europe,” for which I was interviewed along with Christopher Bickerton, published yesterday in El Español: http://www.elespanol.com/mundo/20160504/122237835_0.html. I gave this interview in conjunction with a talk on the impact of European integration on national democracies for the BBVA Foundation in Madrid on May 5, 2016.
Download the book La búsqueda de Europa (kindle, epub y pdf)
I was awarded a prize for best paper published in BJPIR (the British Journal of Politics and International Relations) 2013, for my paper entitled, “Speaking to the Markets or to the People? A Discursive Institutionalist Analysis of the EU’s Sovereign Debt Crisis.” The prize was announced at the Political Studies Association Annual International Conference, at the conference dinner on the evening of March 31st, 2015 in Sheffield, UK.
The paper argues that the EU’s sovereign debt crisis is not just economic; it is also political, resulting from the failure of EU leaders to offer solutions that calm the markets and convince the people. These failures stem from problems with EU leaders’ ideas about how to solve the crisis as well as their communication about them. That communication encompasses not just EU leaders talking to one another in negotiations of crisis solutions but also speaking to “the markets’ and to ‘the people’ about those solutions, all of which may interact in perverse ways. My article uses the analytic framework of “discursive institutionalism” to consider the different forms, types, levels, rates and mechanisms of change in ideas followed by the EU leaders’ discursive interactions in the “coordinative” discourse and their “communicative discourse” to the global markets and European publics. It uses a range of country cases, but in particular Germany and France, in illustration.
Please see the link below to my appearance on German TV news (ARD) in which I was asked to comment on Chancellor Merkel’s austerity policy.
Please see my recent op-ed for Social Europe Journal – “Saving Social Europe: Going Beyond Governing by the Rules and Ruling by the Numbers” – on the continued travails of the Eurozone crisis, with suggestions on how to move beyond the austerity policies enacted since 2008 that have wreaked havoc on European social policies, in particular in countries in the periphery.
During the euro’s sovereign debt crisis, European leaders have been obsessed with rules, numbers, and pacts, including the so-called ‘Six-Pack,’ the ‘Two-Pack,’ and the ‘Fiscal Compact,’ each more stringent on the nature of the rules, more restrictive with regard to the numbers, and more punitive for member-states that failed to meet the requirements. In the absence of any deeper political or economic integration, the EU ended up with ‘governing by the rules’ and ‘ruling by the numbers’ in the Eurozone. Austerity policies focused on rapid deficit reduction along with pressures for structural reform – often shorthand for reducing labor rights and protections – have wreaked havoc on ‘Social Europe,’ in particular in countries in the periphery.
Slowly but surely, however, under pressure from deteriorating economies and increasing political volatility, EU leaders have been changing the rules by which they have been governing the economy. But they have not done this formally. Instead, EU leaders have been informally and incrementally reinterpreting the rules without admitting it in their discourse to the public. This has helped to slow the economic crisis but not to end it.
The latest skirmish on the budget, as Berlin (and Brussels) try to hold the line on the stability rules, while Paris and Rome push for greater flexibility, is very much a draw. Hollande and Renzi wanted and needed a very public fight to show their citizens that they have been pressing for less austerity to ensure economic growth, even as they reaffirmed their respect for the rules. They won by gaining modest concessions that marginally violate the rules on austerity. Merkel also won by ensuring that they too had to make modest concessions toward greater austerity. This leaves the question: is this the beginning of the end for the stability rules or is it just the end of the beginning—with wrangling about the rules the new modus operandi? If the latter, Eurozone economies will continue to sink.
Quote appears in the Greek newspaper newspaper Kathimerini on November 6, 2014.