Comment on „The End of the Eurocrats’ Dream“

While EU scholarship still tends to narrate the Union’s history as one of successful adaptation, and the ‘euro crisis’ as something like a rite of passage, here is a book in a different mould. Singularities and turning-points are the blocks it builds with, and the present moment marks a conclusion. In this, the worst of the EU’s crises (p.1), the apparatus of integration has reached its limits. No longer can it be steered unchallenged by detached elites in the name of expertise: the technocratic logic is unravelling (p.18), as the more powerful governments reassert control and mass publics watch their every step. Law, once the organising principle of community relations, has been devalued by cynical use. Employed as a stabilising tool, without sensitivity for norms and generalizable aims, it now contributes to a façade (pp.9-11). Rules are abundant, but the EU is now in the throes of de-legalisation (p.308).

The volume makes for powerful critical reading. While studies of the failings of Eurozone design and their institutional consequences are now abundant, the editors have a larger ambition: to show the effects of crisis on the ideas and ideals commonly vested in the EU. The decline of the technocratic ethos of decision-making is at the same time the decline of an image of the EU as a non-redistributive association that pursues Pareto-improving regulatory ends (p.3, p.172). The rise of the European Stability Mechanism and the Troika is at the same time the ruin of the principle of equality between member-states, and of the EU as an arrangement that augments state sovereignty rather than eroding it (p.5, and Chalmers chapter).

This broadly normative approach allows problems to be identified even where things look outwardly functional ...

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