dimecres, 2 de setembre de 2015

Is the EU doomed?

That is the title of the interesting book of Jan Zielonka, professor of European Politics at the University of Oxford. The answer of professor Zielonka is that "the current EU may well be doomed, but Europe and European integration certainly are not".

The book has two main parts: first, why the current EU is being doomed and it is in a process of disintegration; second, which is the alternative that the professor Zielonka  proposes to this process.
Regarding the first part, the book tell us that "at present the EU does not facilitate integration, but impedes it" and that "the EU will emerge significantly weakened from the current crisis ... The currency crisis may well be overcome, but the crisis of socio-economic cohesion and political trust will persisit for some time, paralysing EU institutions, generating further conflicts and preventing any substantial reforms".

The author reminds us that "in the past the EU was indeed able to turn crisis to its advantage, beefing up its powers and fostering its vision of integration. However, the latest spectacle of confusion, manipulation and incompetence can hardly be transformed in the EU's favour". In fact, the author points out that "economic integration progressed much more smoothly than political integration. However, interdependence seemed to generate integration of numerous policy fields and made the EU increasingly responsible for running them".

Nevertheless, "today, this process seems to be reversed. It looks as though the pendulum of interdependence has swung over: interdependence no longer generates integration but instead prompts disintegration". And that "the euro crisis has already undermined mutual trust across the continent and marginalized European institutions. There are clear winners and losers emerging from the crisis. Efforts to halt disintegration are about creating more 'Europes' and not more Europe, meaning a single integrated continent".

Moreover, following the author "current visions of reintegration are likely to fail because they are dependent on nation states' support, and they do not evoke enthusiasm of citizens across Europe. European states are reluctant to delegate the powers ... to the EU. ... they are unable to agree on a comprehensive institutional framework to please all and not just some of its current members". From the point of view of Zielonka "in short, reintegration can hardly occur without adressing the deficit of confidence. ... It is time to 'call the EU's bluff' and to show that there are plausible alternatives to the current mode of integration".

In the second part of the book the author explains its alternative to the current mode of integration. He thinks that "effective governance in a complex and diferentiated environment will be less about automatic implementation of commands from the centre and more about bargaining and networking among European, national and local actors, public and private. The key concepts of such governance are self- and co-regulation, public and private partnership, cooperative management and joint entrepreneurial ventures. ... The alternative I'm proposing involves flexible integration along functional lines as oposed to the dogged pursuit of a European super-state. The networks that would emerge from this neo-medieval style of integration ... will be organizations designed to address particular needs and perform specific tasks".

With a musical metaphor the author "called this new mode of integration polyphonic, in contrast to the current EUphony or even cacophony. A polyphonic Europe will embrace the basic principles of democracy -plurality and self-government. It will also embrace the basic principles of effective governance: functional coordination, territorial differentiation and flexibility. The current EUphony obstructs most of that". And he concludes that "abandoning the ambition of an ever-closer union with ever-stronger European institutions and embracing instead genuine diversity, plurality and decentralization may well require a "Copernican" revolution in our thinking about integration. However, upholding the status quo is not a viable option. Polyphony may be a medieval invention but it is well suited to the neo-medieval realities of today".

I agree with hardly everything the analysis of Zielonka in relation to the current EU crisis and the growing disintegration process that it is suffering. Regarding its alternative proposal seems frankly very suggestive and interesting but I'm afraid it's probably not too realistic. At least so unrealistic as thinking that the solution to the current problems of the EU would be a federal Europe, which seems to me an impossible dream.

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