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About this book

The eurozone crisis has raised fundamental questions about the EU's future and has also sparked debate about the wider functions and future direction of European integration in the 21st century. This engaging book provides a broad-ranging reassessment of the whole experience of integration to date and the challenges which face Europe today.

Table of Contents

Introduction

Abstract
The Eurozone crisis and the response to it provide an ideal opportunity to rethink the European Union (EU) and European integration more broadly. After the European sovereign debt crisis began in 2009, hard on the heels of the worldwide financial crisis that began in 2007 and the Great Recession of 2008–10, there followed a steadily growing stream of comment about what the EU should do to address its predicament (Aglietta and Brand, 2013; Beck, 2013; Giddens, 2014; Goulard, 2013; Goulard and Monti, 2012; Habermas, 2012; Heisbourg, 2013; Herzog, 2013; Piris, 2011; Streeck, 2013). Surprise and alarm were expressed about the extent of the assault on both the positivist idea of Europe as the most effective means of responding to social, economic and political challenges and the normative ideal of Europe as the world’s most advanced, effective and exciting experiment in international cooperation. As a result, there began a serious discussion of what the choices for Europe were or should be. The aim of this book is to contribute to this debate by examining the effects of the Eurozone crisis on the EU and the integration project more broadly. In doing so, it follows a bold tradition in treating Europe as a ‘whole rather than the sum of its components’ (Outhwaite, 2008, p. 2; see also inter alia Beck and Grande, 2004; Crouch, 1999; Delanty and Rumford, 2005, Delanty, 2006; Therborn, 1995).
Nathaniel Copsey

1. The Great Recession, the Eurozone Crisis and European Integration

Abstract
In the years after 2007, the European Union (EU) underwent a deep and drawn-out economic, social and political crisis. The Great Recession, the Eurozone Crisis and the politics of rigour and austerity plunged half the Eurozone into an exceptionally deep and long-lasting slump. Member-state governments teetered on the edge of bankruptcy. Jobs evaporated. Demonstrations were staged against tax and pension reforms — both real and proposed — and violent protests made against the austere conditions imposed by the bailouts. The morale of business and households sank whilst governments were blown away by the crisis or submitted themselves to the perceived diktat of bond rating agencies. The financial crisis that triggered the Great Recession originated in the United States and rapidly turned into a global economic shock as a result of the highly integrated nature of the world financial system. This financial crisis exposed the European continent’s many pre-existing internal weaknesses — most notably high levels of debt in the private and/or public sectors in many member states and the build-up of imbalances (De Grauwe, 2013; Piris, 2012) — all of which served to aggravate the contamination effect.
Nathaniel Copsey

2. European Identity

Abstract
European identity is a highly complicated matter; it has always been easier to determine what Europe is not, rather than what it is. Clearly, Europe is not a nation-state with a neatly delineated national identity, a set of familiar national myths and a common language, but neither are the terms Europe and European simply figures of speech. The European integration project in the 2010s was only half a century old and a European identity, a European culture or a European society takes time to come into existence (Outhwaite, 2008). Identity matters because it is at the heart of any community, political or otherwise, and is a powerful instrument of political mobilization. It naturally follows that members of a polity share some sense of being part of it, a sense of ‘we-ness’ as opposed to an ‘other’ group for a number of reasons (Barth, 1969; Bellamy and Castiglione, 2013). First, a common identity is necessary for a political community to succeed and be sustainable, whilst secondly, it is also essential in legitimizing redistributive and other social policy initiatives (Outhwaite, 2008). These two elements are as true for the EU as a polity-in-the-making as it is for a nation-state. In addition, in the case of Europe specifically, the existence of a common identity is also a springboard for the development of globalized political structures and ‘cosmopolitan democracy’ (Held, 1995).
Nathaniel Copsey

3. Legitimacy: Democracy, Accountability and Credibility

Abstract
Questions of legitimacy are always at the forefront of debate about the European Union (EU). All kinds of polity are obliged to legitimize their manner of government by one means or another. In contemporary liberal democratic nation-states, legitimacy is rooted in the competitive principle that voters choose the political party they wish to represent them in government through regular elections conducted under universal suffrage. In non-democratic states, attempts can be made to legitimize military or one-party rule as the only means of ensuring external security or preventing internal violence and disorder. Central and Eastern Europe’s former ruling Communist parties derived their self-proclaimed legitimacy from claims about the optimal means of achieving a socialist society, or protection from potentially belligerent neighbours. Since the EU is not a nation-state, it does not elect a single government. Decisions are made jointly by the elected representatives of national governments in the Council of the EU, and by directly elected Members of the European Parliament (MEPs).
Nathaniel Copsey

4. Solidarity: Winners and Losers in European Integration

Abstract
Europeans, and in particular European politicians, like solidarity. It has become a much-invoked, and at times much-abused, term that features widely in European political discourse as a distinctive element of European modernity and of its economic model (Outhwaite, 2008). Conceptually, it is pleasingly elastic in that it means different things to different people, and can therefore be easily employed as a rhetorical device for show or dramatic effect. Historically, it has also served as a political device to foster a common identity and support nation-building efforts (Fligstein, 2008). The frequency with which it is used suggests that, in general, it has positive connotations, which explains why the Commission, the Council or other EU bodies make such constant use of the term.
Nathaniel Copsey

5. Sustaining European Capitalism

Abstract
The final substantive theme of this book is sustainability. Like solidarity, sustainability has become something of a European buzzword, particularly since the beginning of the Great Recession. Promoting ‘sustainable’ growth is a core aim of the Europe 2020 ten-year growth strategy. Sustainability is also a watchword for environmentalists, trade unionists and many others besides, to whom it has different connotations. In essence, sustainability refers to the capacity to endure and the ability to maintain something at a certain level. Yet sustainability also has a secondary meaning, which refers to the ability to uphold or defend something — perhaps an idea, a set of practices, or a model. Sustainability is understood in both senses in this book: first as the ability of the European model to sustain itself; and second, as its capacity to be upheld and defended against critics. It also follows that it is a far easier undertaking to uphold and defend a European model that is successful than one which is clearly unsustainable.
Nathaniel Copsey

6. Sustaining Europe’s Global Role

Abstract
European integration was conceived and nurtured against the backdrop of a bi-polar Cold War world (Lindley-French, 2007; Marsh and Rees, 2012; McCormick, 2008; Rees and Smith, 2008). The main fault line between communism and capitalism ran through the centre of Europe and the paramount interest of both sides was avoiding nuclear Armageddon and maintaining the status quo (Duchêne, 2008). This dangerous, yet ultimately stable, period of domination by two non-European powers, the Soviet Union and United States, helped Western Europe to undergo a relatively peaceful transition in its relationship with the rest of the world. It transformed from colonial hegemony to a more informal, albeit dominant relationship based not on military might and semi-authoritarian direct rule, but on a form of economic and ‘civilian power’ that emerged as an alternative to the power politics of the Superpowers in the early 1970s (Duchêne, 1972; Hill and Smith, 2011). A less optimistic view would be to suggest that, having exhausted the possibilities of holding on to imperial possessions using military means, in the latter part of the 20th century the Europeans opted for a relationship with the rest of the world that resembled an ‘informal empire’. The Central and Eastern European countries were effectively subordinated to Moscow’s foreign policy doctrine throughout the 45 years of the Cold War, constrained by the ‘spheres of responsibilities’ negotiated at Yalta in 1945 and obligatory membership of the Warsaw Pact (Staar, 1991). Their participation in international trade was coordinated by the Soviet-dominated Committee for Mutual Economic Assistance (COMECON). In common with the Soviet Union, the Central and Eastern Europeans could not be described as participating fully in the world economy until the 1990s.
Nathaniel Copsey

7. Rethinking European Integration

Abstract
In the Introduction, it was observed that the mid-2010s is a good time to rethink European integration, in both a practical and academic sense. The process of systematic reflection and rethinking in Chapters 2 to 6 was empirical in nature, taking a broad look at the results of over half a century of polity-making, driven by deepening economic, political and social integration between European peoples and countries through the lenses of identity, legitimacy, solidarity and sustainability. The effects of the Great Recession on European integration were considered in Chapter 1, highlighting as a source of concern the incomplete nature of the transition of European institutions — at the national and European level. It was noted that a critical debate has begun about what the choices for Europe are, or should be, with interventions from politicians, former senior officials and academics (Aglietta and Brand, 2013; Beck, 2013; Goulard, 2013; Goulard and Monti, 2012; Habermas, 2012; Heisbourg, 2013; Herzog, 2013; Piris, 2011; Streeck, 2013).
Nathaniel Copsey

Conclusion: Rethinking the Choices for Europe

Abstract
This book was written during the depths of the European Union’s first existential crisis; a period of recent European historical development marked by a sense of intractability, failure, loss of purpose and general drift that challenged and undermined much of what has been understood and written about the EU and the European integration project. Its objective was two-fold. First, it sought to investigate what the true effects of the Great Recession and the Eurozone crisis have been. Second, in no small part prompted by the sense of deadlock, inertia and general Kulturpessimismus that went hand-in-hand with the crisis, it aimed to explain why the political, social and economic situation across the EU and its member states remained both so grave and yet so irresolvable at the same time — the apparent contradiction of a situation that was, as the Viennese used to say, ‘desperate but not serious’ prompted further enquiry.
Nathaniel Copsey
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