Categories
International Relations History Economy

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.

Categories
Economy

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

Categories
Business and Finance Economy

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.”

Categories
Government Finance Keyword in Focus

Keyword in Focus: Euro

Europe on a shoestring, photo: Howard Lake/flickr

With Spain next on the list of eurozone countries on the brink of financial abyss, nerves about the future of the great European experiment are at an all-time high. The narrative of the euro’s crisis seems self-fulfilling as  markets move from one financially challenged euro country to the next, and after the Irish bailout, Portugal and Spain seem to be next in line, with cups in their hands and market speculators on their backs.

The collapse of the Spanish economy, with its overstretched banks, chronically high unemployment and a much larger economy than previous recipients of EU/IMF bailout money, is a particularly worrying prospect, yet European leaders seem committed to saving the euro. Even Britain’s George Osborne, the deeply euro-skeptic Chancellor of the Exchequer, acknowledged last week that despite not joining the euro (and still thinking it was a bad idea- “Hah, I told you so!”), it is in Britain’s interest to help with the bailout efforts and to ensure that neighboring countries like Ireland are repaired and revitalized.

With the air of crisis set to loom over Europe for months to come, EU leaders and Europhiles everywhere must be asking themselves: How do we get out of this mess (and how did we get into it in the first place)? Because as much as Americans or even the Brits might enjoy gloating in the face of this largely self-inflicted mess, the EU and its experiment with a common currency are here to stay.

For an excellent set of resources on this highly topical issue, check out our Euro keyword.