Ideas for Europe

The issue of how the political community of European Union should be shaped is a never-ending concern. This week, two contributions, both appeared on Eurozine, are of particular interest. The first is by Robert Menasse, who points out how nowadays political representatives and large parts of the public have forgotten the roots of the European project and its original goals. Such project aims at ensuring lasting peace by overcoming the nation-state and creating a post-national Europe. His idea is that since nations no longer function, but at the same time a post-national Europe does not yet exist, we need to set up a transnational community of solidarity, apt to shelter European citizens from the challenges of globalization. The second contribution is by Ulrike Guérot, who strongly claims that the project of the United States of Europe is off the table, and what we should aim at is instead a European Republic. Drawing from the idea that the existing EU system is broken and that nation-states are already failing and doomed to fail, she advocates for the recognition that sovereignty is not held by states, but by the European citizenry as a whole. Borrowing from Habermas the idea of “double sovereignty”, she envisages a division of powers between, on one hand, the European nations, and on the other, the EU citizens: this amounts to raising EU citizens to a position of equal sovereignty to the European nation-states.

Dealing with the migration crisis

The refugee crisis continues to be on the radar of those intellectuals concerned with Europe. Stratfor, on EurActiv, fears that the refugee crisis could revive and accelerate a possible Grexit. The worsening of the situation, with many countries closing their borders and the more lenient stance of Tsipras on immigration, could lead Golden Dawn to gain more and more support. Given their extreme euroskepticism, this could bring Greece much closer to exiting the eurozone. In a similar vein, Angelos Chryssogelos, on Euobserver, claims that the refugee crisis might have a great impact on Greece because some European politicians may start thinking that excluding Greece from the Shengen pact could be an effective policy to preserve Europe’s freedom of movement. On the other hand, Aleks Szczerbiak, on Social Europe, invites to consider the position of Poland’s new government. In her inauguration speech, the new Prime Minister Beata Szydło states: “the issue of refugees is making us aware that the question of solidarity must be defined clearly. One cannot call attempts to export problems, which some countries have created without others’ participation, solidarity”. Based on this, Szczerbiak expects that Poland’s position on the refugees, usually called responsible solidarity, will become stricter, and suggests that the European Union should not only be aware of that, but also respond to it. While for the Poland government the risks of solidarity concern the European citizens, according to Srecko Horvat on Eutopia Magazine, migrants should worry as well. Solidarity actions are, without any doubt, the only morally proper thing to do, but at the same time they actually prolong the refugee crisis. He states that nothing short of a full restructuring of capitalistic roots of our society can solve the crisis permanently.

From the Euro

The Economist laments the absence of a common narrative about the economic crisis. Some efforts in this direction have been made by prominent economists on VoxEU: in their explanations, they acknowledge the fact that the crisis of the Eurozone was not a sovereign-debt crisis. On the contrary, the problem was one of massive capital flows across boarders, which encouraged high levels of private borrowing. And due to a reversal in those flows, private borrowers and banks got into big trouble. This original misdiagnosis lead to policies that were ineffective in governing the crisis. More radical is the interpretation of Yanis Varoufakis, who was interviewed by The Guardian. According to Greece’s former finance minister, the setup of the common currency was faulty from the beginning, and Greece’s creditors were only interested in the demonstration effect that crushing the opponents to the austerity measures would produce.


This Ideas Monitor is by Giulia Bistagnino and Carlo Burelli


Photo Credits CC: GAU Galeria de Arte Urbana

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