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Unless otherwise indicated, all events will take place in the
Seminar Room, European Studies Centre, 70 Woodstock Road.

* Seminars organized jointly with the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR)  

Core seminar, Michaelmas Term 2012 

Convenors:  Othon Anastasakis, Mark Leonard and Jan Zielonka


Europe in Crisis


Europe is facing an existential crisis with the integration project unravelling by the day. This seminar will discuss various aspects of the crisis focussing on geopolitics, democracy, ideology, economy, culture, institutions, governance and foreign policy. Although the issues to be tackled are of a broader intellectual nature, we will try to look for practical political solutions for addressing them through a series of seminars gathering academics and practitioners together.


Week 1: Tuesday 9 October


Markets versus Citizens

Europe’s crisis started with a failure of the markets, but it was soon transformed into a failure of democratic governance. This was not only because European governments bailed out banks with taxpayers’ money. It was also because these governments were unwilling or unable to regain control of banks and markets, which were seen to perform in an inadequate if not predatory manner. Vast segments of the European electorate across the continent have felt the crunch and shown their discontent either on the streets or at the ballot boxes. However, democracy operates chiefly at a nation-state level, while markets operate globally. Moreover, there is an argument that nation-states have been transformed into market-states over the past few decades, with serious implications for the nature of social contracts and democratic priorities. The EU’s democratic and capitalist credentials are highly ambivalent. Is the EU an agent of globalisation or protectionism? Does the EU offer any meaningful forms of democratic participation to its citizens? Is a social contract possible within a highly diversified EU space? If not, can the EU be charged with Europe’s money and the single market without being given powers of taxation and social policy? And can there be taxation without representation within the EU?

Speakers: Jan Zielonka (St Antony's College), Paolo Mancini (Media and Democracy in Central and Eastern Europe) and John Lloyd (Financial Times)


Week 2: Tuesday 16 October


‘Old’ versus ‘New’ Social Risks

The current discourse is mainly about financial austerity measures and their effectiveness in curbing public debts in the Eurozone.  It is only when social unrest erupts on the streets of Athens or Madrid that the debate about the future of the European welfare democracies resurfaces. It looks like we are facing the choice between a fiscal revolution and a social revolution. After World War Two, the development of the welfare state accompanied the recovery of European economies and societies, as well as the birth of European integration. That model seems to have come to an end. The current crisis demands a thorough reconsideration of the meaning and prospect of welfare politics in Europe. What are the major challenges confronted by welfare regimes across Europe? How can welfare policies adjust to meet those challenges? More importantly what is the meaning of equality, redistribution and solidarity in the Europe of today? And if we indeed leave in an “age of singularity,” can a new European model of solidarity and integration be found?

Speakers: Martin Seeleib-Kaiser (Green Templeton College, Oxford), and David Rueda (Merton College, Oxford)


Week 3: Tuesday, 23 October


Technocracy versus Populism

With the European Union now in crisis, the quest for economic efficiency is being emphasised more than the quest for democratic participation. Greece was told to put its finances in order in accordance with a given economic blueprint and with no option to consult its electorate in a referendum. Italy was persuaded to replace Mr Berlusconi by Mr Monti to regain economic credibility and political standing. Hungary was asked to repeal its laws on courts and the central bank that were recently adopted by its parliament with an overwhelming majority. In all these cases the EU took a high normative stance against economic and political malpractice. And yet, it made itself vulnerable to criticism, particularly from the populist camp. Mr Berlusconi spoke about “suspended democracy” in Italy, even though he lost his parliamentary majority long before the EU intervention. Right-wing Hungarian politicians accused the EU of constraining the sovereign will of their people who in recent parliamentary elections gave Mr Orban a handsome (constitutional) majority. Left-wing Greek politicians accused the EU of being an agent of international (if not German) financial power-mongers interested chiefly in debt collection rather than good governance. The democratic credentials of the EU have also been questioned. Can the European Commission dictate policies to democratically elected governments? What is the democratic basis of European decisions made by the Franco-German directorate? Can technocratic governments provide solid legitimacy? Clearly the Union needs to find a balance between its quest for efficiency and the demand for democratic participation.

Speakers: Brigid Laffan (University College, Dublin) and Loukas Tsoukalis (University of Athens)


Week 4: Monday, 29 October


Austerity versus Growth

The ESC Annual Lecture by Wolfgang Schauble moderated by Chris Patten


Week 5: Tuesday, 6 November


Pluralism versus Order

The crisis in Europe began with a banking failure but soon became a failure of governance. Individual countries responded differently to the crisis. The European governance centre seemed either paralyzed or high jacked by partisan interests of the most powerful states. Most important decisions were taken by by non-treaty based institutions such as the Frankfurt Group or Troika (the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund). Measures taken to address the crisis failed to satisfy the electorates and markets. Contrasting visions of governance were aired by different actors generating confusion and conflicts. Some demanded more austerity, stricter laws and harsher sanctions while others pleaded for more incentives, tolerance and solidarity. Some pushed for more centralization and hierarchy while others for more pluralism and local autonomy. This seminar will review national and European responses to the crisis from political, administrative and economic perspective. Does European multi-level governance resemble a pyramid or garbage can at present? Is it able to maintain collective order, the achievement of collective goals, and the collective process of rule formation? Is it able to secure the minimum level of compromise, and accommodation required in a highly diversified European environment?  Where is the right balance between the requirements of institutional cohesion and discipline on the one hand and the need for plurality and flexibility on the other?

Speakers: Miguel Maduro (EUI, Florence) and Walter Kickert (Erasmus University, Rotterdam)


Week 6: Tuesday, 13 November


Liberal versus Social Europe

Today we are encouraged to believe that we are living in a post-ideological age, but if ideology is understood in broad terms as a body of ideas reflecting social needs and aspirations, then it is hard to claim that ideology is dead. Social-democrats and neo-liberals clearly have different visions of the state and society, but attention can also be directed to the rise of new ideologies.  For instance, whether individuals place the blame for the crisis on German bankers or Greek pensioners depends on their ideological mind set, and not just on their national preference. There is no theory that can adjudicate whether the latter rather than the former are guilty. Likewise, different ideological schools will embrace or resist strict regulation of banks and markets. They will favour the private or public sector. They will support those with entrepreneurial skills or those with few skills and assets. They will prioritise growth or redistribution. These choices are not merely intellectual. Power is about defining the notion of what is legitimate and normal. (Neo)Liberalism appears to be discredited by the current crisis, but social-democracy does not seem successful in adjusting to the post-industrial age. What kind of ideology or belief system is likely to shape the future European landscape?

Speakers: GeorgeSchöpflin (EMP, Fidesz, Hungary) and Andrew Vincent (University of Sheffield)


Week 7: Tuesday, 20 November

Global interdependence

Adaptive versus Strategic Engagement

Foreign policies of actors everywhere are confronted by global interdependence. In a world that is “flat” the EU cannot confine its policies to a certain territory only. Our pensions, health, personal security and even ideologies are being influenced by developments in different and often remote places of the world. However, EU member states need to decide whether they still have the ambition to shape a global and regional order collectively in a strategic manner or to endorse adaptive foreign policies run by individual member states. Although member states have signed up to a strategy of Global Europe, this is not cost free, and the current financial crisis has clearly affected the EU’s ability to finance its international engagements. Some member states may well conclude that their interests are best served by a foreign policy that seeks to take advantage of economic and political openings in the international system in the way that other players such as Singapore, Switzerland or Qatar have done in recent years. The Union is therefore faced with a serious dilemma: what is the best way of investing the EU’s limited resources? Can the EU afford a global collective strategy, and if not, can merely adaptive foreign polices work? Which regions and issues ought to have utmost priority for the EU? Where is the EU’s leverage most effective; what should be left to member states? Which issues and countries should be left to other international actors to handle? The policy of EU enlargement was seen as the most successful element of the EU’s external policy, and it was basically confined to the old continent, however defined. However, these days enlargement is out of vogue and the EU has little to offer to reformers in Ukraine, Tunisia or Serbia. But can the EU embark on global adventures without having sound a neighbourhood policy? What is the EU’s strategic and geopolitical vision in the era of financial austerity and institutional crisis?

Invited: John Peet (The Economist) and Georg Sørensen (University of Aarhus)

Week 8: Tuesday, 27 November

Power and Influence

Centre versus Periphery

The EU is said to be composed of 27 sovereign states with equal membership rights. But this description does not necessarily reflect the political and economic reality. Obviously the influence of Germany or France in Europe is greater than, say, that of Estonia or Cyprus. The formal arrangements (and powers) of the 27 states also differ. For instance, only some are in the EMU or Schengen. The crisis has exposed the gap between the European centres of power and the peripheries. The current discourse openly talks about the Southern European periphery, including such founding member states as Italy. New member states from Central and Eastern Europe are also more policy-takers rather than policy-makers. The status of the UK within Europe is now more ambivalent than ever. And, there are also countries with a complex set of formal and informal relationships with the EU such as Switzerland, Turkey, Serbia or Kosovo. This seminar will explore various patterns of differentiation within Europe. What kind of geo-political map of Europe emerges from the current crisis? Do states have unequal access to the EU decision-making and resources, and if so which ones and why? What are the new centres of European power, and how are they likely to exercise this power? Are Europe’s peripheries condemned to political or economic instability and is this instability contagious? Is the Centre more powerful and able to dictate its rule to the periphery? Or is the periphery in a position to force a disintegration of the European edifice? Where does the true power lie?

Speakers: Zaki Laidi (Sciences Po, Paris) and Gideon Rachman (Financial Times)

 1st Aerials Oxford




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