A Crisis Made in Italy

The recent crisis surrounding the Italian President’s refusal to appoint a Finance Minister considered likely to pursue an agenda of ‘Italexit’ has sparked a great deal of constitutional commentary. Two particular threads of opinion are identified here and some doubts cast about them. On the one hand, there are those who consider legitimate the President’s discretionary use of power, partly in light of the pressure that would be brought to bear by the financial markets should Italy opt for exiting the single currency. On the other hand, there are those who doubt its wisdom, and offer a broader indictment of the pressure brought to bear on the Italian government as a result of being in an overly rigid Eurozone. This gets closer to diagnosing the condition, but in its ambiguity about the pressure point, fails to underscore that this is essentially a crisis made in Italy, and, if at all, to be resolved there, including a full and frank debate about membership of the single currency and even the European Union.

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European parliamentary sovereignty on the shoulders of national parliamentary sovereignties: A Reply to Sébastien Platon

We are really grateful that the Verfassungsblog has been one of the very first forums engaging the discussion on the "Treaty on the democratization of the governance of the euro area" (T-Dem). While the proposal has emerged in the framework of the current French presidential campaign, and is now widely debated in this context, it has been primarily thought of as a contribution to the ongoing transnational conversation over the future of the European Union. As authors of the proposal, we first wish to thank our colleague Sébastien Platon for launching an interesting discussion about the T-Dem.

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Democratizing the Euro Area without the European Parliament: Benoît Hamon’s “T-Dem”

On the 10th March, the official candidate of the Socialist Party for the French presidential elections, Benoît Hamon, outlined his programme for the European Union. This programme, whilst being against austerity and in favour of more flexibility as regards EU requirements in terms of public budgets and public debts, comes with a treaty proposal, the draft treaty on the democratization of the governance of the euro area (dubbed « T-Dem »). This treaty, which was prepared by the candidate together with the superstar economist Thomas Piketty (who has joined his team) is supposed to bring more democracy to the governance of the Euro area. However noble (and necessary) this ambitious idea might seem, the way this draft treaty has been engineered raises not only political but also legal questions.

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After the Italian Referendum

So much was at stake for Italy, its political class and its economy, and for the European Union (EU) and its member states in the country’s failed referendum on constitutional reform. In the EU, Germany is a particularly sensitive case. The relations between Germany and Italy are a focal point in Europe. They used to be in an asymmetric, albeit comforting, equilibrium.

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The End of the Eurocrats’ Dream

The premise of this timely and important book is that the Euro crisis has placed the EU in an existential predicament that cannot be resolved in the usual fashion of yet more of the same. Though there is surprisingly little by way of a sketch of what might have been the Eurocrats’ dream, the reader is left in no doubt that we are currently living through what might best be termed the Eurocrats’ nightmare – a form of governance that falls far short of the current challenges confronting the EU, and is indeed partly promotive of them.

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The End of the European Union as We Know It

The European Union is facing a political crisis unprecedented in its 59-year history. This club of democratic countries established primarily to promote peace and prosperity in post-war Europe is facing a nationalist and populist surge that threatens the democratic principles at the very heart of the EU. Capitalizing on the European sovereign debt crisis; backlash against refugees streaming in from the Middle East, Brexit and public angst over the growing terror threat, previously fringe political parties are growing with alarming speed.

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The Future of the EU between Independence and Interdependence

Almost all contributions to the collection ‘The End of Eurocrats’ Dream’ touch upon a tension that has been implicit in the integration process from the very start, but has only explicitly manifested itself during the Euro-crisis: the tension between independence and interdependence. This tension is also evident in the refugee crisis, and in (the aftermath of) Brexit: how can we at once accept Member State autonomy (in fiscal policy, border control or deciding on the conditions for EU membership) while at the same time sustaining collective commitments towards, say, a monetary union, Schengen or free movement?

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Governing at a distance:  democratic responsibility and social solidarity in the Eurozone

As stated in its preface, this impressive collection of essays has the ambitious aim of launching a “fundamental debate” about European integration in the wake of the crisis and, in particular, the institutional reforms and policy choices made since 2008. The volume’s title already contains the basic diagnosis. European integration has fallen prey to a technocratic project – a dystopian dream which has corroded the EU’s constitutional integrity, its legitimation basis, its very point and purpose. This dream has to end, or better yet be brought to an end through an effective, if laborious, intellectual and political work. This is the basic message of the volume, shared by all its contributors.

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After the Eurocrats' Dream, the Contingence of the History

The Eurocrats’ dream was the stealth Europe. The Monnet method of bureaucratic integration has been mechanical and furtive, dominated by necessity. The principal leaders of integration, on the right and the left, have been driven by a crude determinism that presumed that economic development would inevitably lead to desired institutional improvements. The hidden hand of functional imperatives has been more important than reflection and choices, as if integration could be carried out without the need to make express decisions of the kind that are contained in constitutional moments.

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