Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Frank Furedi on the euro crisis: The end of an era

 "From its inception, the EU was an elitist managerial project that was able to construct and promote its agenda without having to directly respond to popular pressure"

Professor Frank Furedi of the University of Kent is one of my favourite academics. In one of his latest articles, dealing with the failure of the EU leaders to adequately address the crisis of the euro, Furedi gives an excellent description of the reality of the European Union:

The rhetoric of responsibility aversion among policy-makers in the EU is underpinned by the realisation that their institution lacks the authority and the political resources to deal with the current crisis. It is important to remember that the EU is a technocratic institution that has always responded to new challenges through cobbling together behind-the-door deals. From its inception, the EU was an elitist managerial project that was able to construct and promote its agenda without having to directly respond to popular pressure. Decisions are never arrived at through public debate, and the majority of EU laws are formulated by the hundreds of secret working groups set up by the Council of the EU. Most of the sessions of the Council of Ministers are held behind closed doors and the EU’s unelected European Commission has the sole right to put forward legislation.
The most distinct feature of the EU’s governance is that it is systematically pursued through the principle of insulated decision-making. For decades the EU political establishment has self-consciously constructed institutions that could insulate them from the necessity of having to respond directly to the type of public pressure faced by a democratic parliament. The EU’s invisible decision-making allowed a variety of political actors in Brussels and in the national capitals to avoid taking responsibility for unpopular decisions. In effect, policy-makers were insulated from having to account for the consequences of their decisions.

Furedi is not optimistic about the ability of the present EU leaders to solve the current problems:

Political leadership is not simply a desirable option. Without winning over a significant section of the European electorate it will prove extremely difficult to restore financial order in Europe. Regrettably, the EU establishment lacks the capacity to offer such leadership. Policy-makers who are used to behind-the-scenes manoeuvring are rarely able to re-invent themselves as persuasive leaders.

The future for the euro, and indeed the EU in its present form, does not look rosy:

I have visited Brussels regularly during the past five years, but this was the first time that my interlocutors appeared to signal their fear that the euro crisis was more than a financial one. It represented the end of an era.

Read the entire article here

1 comment:

A K Haart said...

Yes, I like Frank Furedi too and this is a good piece. The problem with the EU has always been structural - it isn't adequately responsive to events in the real world because it wasn't designed that way and never evolved in such a way as to correct its deficiencies.

Now the EU is stuck with a structure that doesn't function effectively and with people attracted to its way of working. As Furedi says, it doesn't look good.