On May 27, 2021, I participated in a roundtable for the launch of a book (in which I have a chapter) entitled Our European Future, edited and published by the Foundation for European Progressive Studies. In my talk (and chapter) entitled: “European Economic Governance: Key issues to assess its recent past and its desirable evolution,” I discussed the problems of the past and offered some new ideas for the future of EU economic governance.
On May 25, I participated in a webinar on the politics of emergency, as part of a series of online talks from UCL’s European Institute and the Department of Public Policy/School of Public Policy.
The roundtable discussion builds on a debate section on “European and the Transnational Politics of Emergency,” co-eds Christian Kreuder-Sonnen and Jonathan White (2021) , in the Journal of European Public Policy, to which I contributed. Myarticle for the journal is entitled: “European Emergency Politics and the Question of Legitimacy.”
I was interviewed on Thursday, May 25 by Sofia Pavannini of Nantes Euradio on legitimacy in Europe during the Eurozone crisis and Covid-19. I talked about my worry that at the start of the pandemic, when nothing was being done, that it was a déjà vu of the Eurozone crisis. But very quickly everything changed. The Commission invoked the escape clause so that states could spend as needed. The Next Generation EU plan wants to show that there is money for the next generation, for the ecological transition, for the digital transformation and also for inequalities. This is a new situation, but it is only temporary. Ultimately, the question is: will this become the new mode of governance of the European Union? Will this crisis be seen as the time to rethink the EU? This is the big question!
On Monday, May 24, I took part in a discussion hosted by BU’s Center for the Study of Europe with Bojan Bugaric, Professor of Law at Sheffield University and Associate Fellow, SPERI (Sheffield Political Economy Research Institute, and Mark Tushnet, William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Law, Emeritus, at Harvard Law School. Bugaric and Tushnet were presenting their forthcoming book from Oxford University Press:Power to the People: Constitutionalism in an Age of Populism. I was joined by Robert L. Tsai, Professor of Law at Boston University, who also offered comments.
Bugaric and Tushnet’s book challenges the notion that populism is ipso facto incompatible with modern liberal democracy. While acknowledging that some variants of populism are indeed incompatible with constitutionalism, they argue that the tension between populism and constitutionalism is narrower than much of the commentary suggests. Their analysis of populism in a variety of contexts reveals there are many populisms, and further, that sometimes populism helps to revivify democracy rather than undermine it.
On May 21, I gave a presentation entitled “COVID 19 and Its Possible Implications for EU Differentiation” for PhD students in a short course on “A Differentiated Europe and Its Implications” organized by ARENA Center for European Studies, Oslo University. The core objective of this course is to address differentiation as a central concern in European studies, across academic disciplines from political science, public policy and public administration, to law, sociology and history.
Below please see the final in the series of interviews I did for the International Institute for Peace in Vienna, focused on the Conference on the Future of Europe. The IIP asked experts to take a deeper look on the main challenges, domestically and internationally, for the European Union in the next four years. I focused my remarks on Europe’s crisis of legitimacy and how it can improve both democracy and legitimacy in the future.
On May 10, 2021, I took part in a webinar organized by the RECONNECT Horizon 2020 project—a four-year multidisciplinary research project on ‘Reconciling Europe with its Citizens through Democracy and the Rule of Law’, aimed at understanding and providing solutions to the recent challenges faced by the European Union (EU).
The event begins with a presentation by RECONNECT partner Prof. Bernd Schlipphak (University of Münster), who summarizes theresults from a survey among 12,000 citizens from six European countries on the ideal setting of the EU in the mind of European citizens. Based on these results, a panel of experts consisting of myself, Prof. Brigid Laffan (EUI, Florence), Prof. Michael Zürn (WZB, Berlin) discusses the implications for the wider prospects of EU reform. The webinar is moderated by RECONNECT partner Prof. Oliver Treib in collaboration with Dana S. Atzpodien (both from the University of Münster).
In a recent piece for Social Europe, I make the case that the Conference on the Future of Europe needs to address how EU governance can be refitted to end the crisis of legitimacy.
The Covid-19 pandemic has been something of a wake-up call for the European Union. The EU finally recognised that the eurozone economic policies it had been pursuing since the 1990s—reinforced at the outset of the eurozone crisis in 2010—had been deleterious to the wellbeing of its citizens and the planet.
The obsession with ‘governing by rules and ruling by numbers’ through the Stability and Growth Pact (SGP), focused on low deficit and debts, meant that the EU had failed to invest in its future. Such rules and numbers ensured that those without the ‘fiscal space’ (read southern Europe) could not invest, while those with the fiscal space (northern Europe) did not. The EU’s eurozone governance engendered a ‘crisis of legitimacy’, in which doubling down on the procedural rules led to poor economic performance and increasingly toxic politics.