This chapter considers the ways in which the current crises of the EU are nested within a series of broader crisis dynamics that together challenge the standard operating procedures of European capitalist democracies. Of course, it makes little sense to ‘factor out’ the EU from any analysis of the trajectory of crises in present day Europe. But equally, it is mistaken to suggest that the EU is straightforwardly the wellspring of all crises currently facing European societies. Rather, this chapter assumes that the relationship between European integration and broader European political development is mutually constitutive, and that this has always been so. The broad argument here is that the EU needs to be understood as the product of a particular moment in the history of European democratic capitalism, and further that the EU’s current tribulations can be best understood in relation to the unravelling of the political settlement in which it was born. It goes without saying that ‘exogenous shocks’ such as the post-2008 global financial crisis and the post-2014 migration/refugee crisis (see chapters 4 and 6 respectively) place the EU system and its constituent polities under considerable stress and thereby give rise to new and complex forms of political conflict. In the EU’s case, this cocktail has generated nothing short of an existential crisis (Zielonka 2014, see also chapter 17). The contribution here is to suggest that the particular ways in which those shocks and the resultant politics have developed cannot be understood without a wider appreciation of the changing dynamics of European capitalist democracy.
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- The Political Economic Context of EU Crises
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- Chapter 3