The CSS Blog Network

The End of European Exceptionalism?

The historical expansion of the EU

The historical expansion of the EU. Image: Ssolbergj/Wikipedia

Ten years ago, people were going long on Europe.  In 2002, an influential article in Policy Review described Europe as “entering a post-historical paradise of peace and relative prosperity,” even “the realization of Kant’s Perpetual Peace.”  Those familiar with that article, Robert Kagan’s “Power and Weakness,” know that this was praise of a certain kind.  What made this Europe possible, according to Kagan was, actually: “the United States… mired in history, exercising power [out] in the anarchic, Hobbesian world.”  Though Kagan clearly did not believe that Europe circa 2002 was an illustration of Kant’s vision of human progress in history — in which the working out of our “unsocial sociability” would eventually lead to a global alliance of peaceful republics — it was the image he used.  And it was a compelling one.

When that article was written, the idea of Europe as paradise was plausible. The Euro had just entered circulation, membership of the EU was about to reach for the first time behind the old iron curtain, and people were getting used to the prospect of Europe as a second superpower alongside the United States. Perhaps Kagan’s article was so influential because it suggested what few at the time believed: that what Europe had achieved in preceding decades would not easily or inevitably be repeated elsewhere in the decades to come, that European advances were themselves contingent and fragile.  That power was not obsolete. » More

Keyword in Focus: Greece

The Greek Parliament. Photo: SimonC flickr.

After yesterday’s vote and the approval today of legislation allowing for the rapid implementation of new austerity measures, one may legitimately wonder what tomorrow has in store for Greece, a country that will always have special significance in the West.

Few, it seems, have failed to notice the symmetry in the fact that until Wednesday the fate of the latest common European project very much seemed to turn—and perhaps still turns—on events in the birthplace of the oldest one.

Though more treacherous waters lie ahead, for now at least Europe has avoided the ‘Lehman moment’ that it was feared could trigger the unraveling of its monetary union and an even deeper crisis for its political one. No Marathon or Salamis, to be sure — but welcome news nonetheless.

We take this opportunity to showcase the holdings of the ISN Digital Library on Greece

Some Links on the Euro Crisis

One Euro? Photo: Jose Glez y Lopez/flickr

With the massive protests in Spain over the weekend and calls from respectable quarters for Greece to leave the Euro – which, as Daniel Knowles of the Telegraph succinctly illustrates (echoing Barry Eichengren’s working paper), could have genuinely catastrophic results – the future of the Eurozone is very much in question today in the world media.

Last August, Lorenzo Smaghi, writing for Foreign Affairs, offered an optimistic assessment that put a lot faith in the new financial governance structures – mainly the European Financial Stability Fund (EFSF) – implemented that summer, but that optimism now seems to have been overtaken by events.

Whereas Charles Calomiris, in Foreign Policy, was telling us in January that the Euro was dead, in the May/June print edition of Foreign Affairs, Henry Farrell and John Quiggin offered a proposal to save it – “and the EU.”

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Serbia’s Bid for EU Candidacy

Wall with graffiti: Never, EU!

EU, never? Wait and see. Photo: Limbic/flickr

The timing could not have been any better. A few days from now, the chief prosecutor to the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) will release a report which was expected to paint a damning picture of Serbia’s co-operation with the ICTY, thereby destroying Serbia’s chance of getting EU candidacy status this year. Considering today’s historic arrest of war criminal Ratko Mladic and his expected extradition to The Hague, some people at the ICTY will now have to work overtime to correct the draft report, .

Serbia’s move towards EU accession began back in 2008, with presidential elections and a parliamentary vote both demonstrating the appeal of the EU perspective to Serbia’s electorate. Even after Kosovo unilaterally declared its independence, a majority of Serbians continued to resist nationalistic demagogy. Of course the nationalist ideology had not disappeared, but its political significance started to diminish.

Serbia officially applied for EU membership in December 2009, after seeking to secure the broadest possible support among member states. In October last year, the EU member states referred Serbia’s application for membership in the EU to the European Commission, while reiterating that further steps toward membership would depend on Serbia’s “full co-operation” with the ICTY. The Netherlands in particular took a tough stance, reiterating that their consent was dependent on the arrest of General Mladic and Goran Hadzic. » More

European Asylum Policy to Become Reality

A solution for everyone's sake. Photo: Antonello Mangano/flickr

The EU is finally moving towards a common asylum policy. On 4 May, the European Commission made a proposal to improve the migration policy, with the conclusion of the asylum system as one of its goals.

This push for action has been triggered by the uprisings in Northern Africa, as the European states seemed unable to address the strong immigration fluxes. Even though the situation isn’t exactly new, this episode highlights the need for a single European response to major exterior events. The lack of a foreign policy unity remains one of the EU’s most problematic areas.

EU countries already began to set up a common asylum system back in 1999, but the ongoing process ended up being “too slow“. The main intentions haven’t changed much though: to harmonize the legislative measures and to provide a uniform status for those granted with asylum in a EU country. Plus, as the European Commission now stresses, resettlement within the EU Member-states must become a more common practice. And the numbers continue to show the extent by which Europe still lags behind. Last year, around 5,000 refugees were resettled within the EU, as compared to 75,000 in the US. Even Canada alone resettled more refugees than all the EU countries together…

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