The Crisis of the European Union

Erik O. Eriksen and Christopher Lord have contributed with a book chapter each in a volume devoted to the challenges the European Union has confronted. 

About the book

The European integration project currently faces profound political, economic, legal, and societal challenges. These challenges seem increasingly to overburden the European Union as well as the cohesion among the Member States, and therefore pose a serious threat to the integration project. The EU faces a major task in coping with this situation and it is one that calls for new approaches and ideas

This book addresses the major challenges confronting the EU, analyses the consequences for the integration project, and develops fresh perspectives on the EU’s future prospects for coping with the most debated, current and upcoming issues, such as the rise of Euroscepticism or the contested idea of an ‘ever-closer union’. Renowned experts in European Studies from the fields of political science, law, economics and sociology provide an interdisciplinary perspective on the different dimensions of the EU’s crisis-laden situation and question whether the EU’s existing problem-solving mechanisms and methods are sufficient to address the imminent tasks.

Segmentation, differentiation and the aims of European integration

European integration has long been differentiated in the sense that different member states participate in different Union policies. But is differentiation giving way to outright division? If we are even to begin to answer that question, Christopher Lord argues, we need to move on from cataloguing variations in how far member states participate in different policies. Rather, we need to ask how far the Union has come to comprise different forms of political authority. Here the author take authority relations to be defined by a) political obligations; b) assumptions about the priority of laws and c) rules for making collectively binding decisions. Thus defined, Lord argues there are four distinct sets of authority relations in the contemporary Union. The first and second sets are constituted by the ‘Community’ and ‘Union’ methods. The third, is Monetary Union. The fourth consists of extra-territorial authority relations where Union policies and laws are systematically applied to non-member states.

Democratic innovations beyond the state

Is democracy possible when there is no state with the capacity to coerce? In Europe sovereignty is pooled and bounded and decision-making power is shared between the European Union and the member states. The union contains several political innovations, which signify a new constellation of multilevel rule. Innovations like constitutional fusion, shared sovereignty, stateless government, parliamentary interweaving, layered public sphere can be seen to represent an alternative solution to the problem of legitimate rule beyond the nation state. They are an alternative to those represented by intergovernmentalism and federalism, both of which are state-based. Eriksen takes issue with state-based notions of democracy as well as with Jürgen Habermas’ suggestion of shared sovereignty between the “citizens” and the “peoples” as two constitution founding subjects. He argues that there is and can only be one constituting subject even in a multilevel configuration like the EU. The defining characteristics of Europe’s political order are co-membership and codetermination. The author sees these innovations as functional equivalents to state-based rule because they can approximate the legitimacy conferring function of representative democracy. However, these merits are threatened by the new forms of dominance resulting from the handling of the Eurozone crisis.

Full info

Chapter 13: Segmentation, differentiation and the aims of European integration
Christopher Lord

Chapter 14: Democratic innovations beyond the state
Erik O. Eriksen

In: The Crisis of the European Union. Challenges, Analyses, Solutions
Andreas Grimmel (ed.)

Routledge, 2017
ISBN: 9781138215641

Published Sep. 22, 2017 11:51 AM - Last modified Sep. 22, 2017 12:01 PM