The real spectre haunting Europe

How safe is democracy in Europe? Observers of extremist political movements have sometimes described them as “self-disqualifying” — that is, the louder they shout, the less they are heard (or at least listened to) by mainstream voters and parties. If this were true, and established democracies really have such a built-in circuit breaker, we wouldContinue reading “The real spectre haunting Europe”

Scottish independence – it really matters

With all the attention given to who said what at the EU’s latest ‘crisis summit,’ it would have been easy to miss the news that Alex Salmond and David Cameron have agreed the basic details of a referendum on Scottish independence to be held in 2014. But even if you didn’t miss it, you couldContinue reading “Scottish independence – it really matters”

Back to the future? Fascism in Europe 21st century-style

European integration was launched in response  to the horrors that fascist dictatorship had meant for Europe in the 1930s-40s: war and genocide. In other words, fascism was supposed to be part of Europe’s past. During most of the postwar era, neo-fascist movements remained a marginal, albeit morally troubling, footnote in European politics. Virtually nobody imaginedContinue reading “Back to the future? Fascism in Europe 21st century-style”

The full Monti

Aidan Regan at the EUI has a fascinating account of Mario Monti’s thoughts on a range of European issues here. Monti is particularly keen on increasing the capacity for effective decision-making at European level, and indeed the slow-motion political response to the crisis in the Eurozone has revealed how badly this is needed. Monti wantsContinue reading “The full Monti”

Victory for Europe? Not yet

Over the last few weeks, various commentators described the multiple events of 12 September (yesterday) as the EU’s D-Day, a make-or-break final assault on the Eurozone crisis. One day on, things do seem to have gone quite well for EU stability: the ECB has announced an unlimited programme to buy bonds of Eurozone states (albeitContinue reading “Victory for Europe? Not yet”

On economic crisis, democracy and European integration

The European media’s obsession with reading tea leaves from Frankfurt and bond yields from Madrid has blinded the public to the more fundamental issues at stake in the current crisis. This essay on the relationship between economic crisis, democracy and European integration by Nobel Prize-winning economist-turned-philosopher Amartya Sen helps to refocus the discussion.

Must the EU choose between effectiveness and legitimacy?

Commentators on European affairs, including myself, have often argued that the EU can and must attend to its democratic deficit at the same time that it seeks a technical solution to the Eurozone crisis. But a recent essay by Princeton political theorist Jan-Werner Mueller finds it “hard to see how proposals for European democracy couldContinue reading “Must the EU choose between effectiveness and legitimacy?”

The Myth of Exceptional Europe: The Failure of EU Foreign Policy

The notion of the European Union being an exceptional international actor is well established in the literature and dates from the very inception of ‘Europe’ as being a continental peace project. In today’s literature, while a number of variations on the theme exist, the dominant model is that of the Union as a ‘normative power’.Continue reading “The Myth of Exceptional Europe: The Failure of EU Foreign Policy”

No more integration without more representation !

Senior EU officials have just released a blueprint for another great leap forward in European integration, to be discussed by all 27 heads of state and government at this week’s summit meeting. Perhaps not surprisingly, this blueprint says little about the EU’s growing democratic deficit. Notwithstanding the urgency of the current crisis, it’s now highContinue reading “No more integration without more representation !”

More Europe?

The so-called European Foreign Ministers Group on the Future of Europe has just released its report. Although the group was launched and chaired by German foreign minister Guido Westerwelle, its report was not entirely a German product. As the Auswaertiges Amt explains, “Alongside Foreign Minister Westerwelle, the Foreign Ministers of Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland, PortugalContinue reading “More Europe?”