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What accounts for the EU's difficulty/inability to tackle crises? Answer with reference to two or more crises.
This question presumes, quite correctly, that in accordance with the 'Failing
Forward' theory, seeing crises as necessary in the cyclical process of integration to generate functionalist pressure for new solutions is insufficient. There are more fundamental,
structural defects with the EU mechanism of dealing with crises. Arguably, the UK's anxiety with deeper European integration, resulted in most notably opting out of the euro and the
Schengen Zone, was justified when the Eurozone crisis broke out in 2010 and the refugee crisis in 2015 (or 2013 for eastern European states). What is so significant about these crises is that it exposes brutally that EU was designed to be a project for sharing and building prosperity, particularly with programmes such as the Common Agricultural Policies and regional development funds. When crises arise, the EU Member States does not know how to share burdens and responsibilities.
By definition, crises stand outside what norms and rules can cope with, and the nature of the EU determined that the resolution of crises is highly dependent on intergovernmental negotiations and compromises. The EU, unlike a state, is a treaty-based organisation. It does not derive its legitimacy from popular sovereignty. Therefore, for the decisions it takes to be legitimate, it must rely on treaty provisions. In other words, the EU is destined to be unable to cope with the exceptions to the rule. For the Eurozone crisis, Art.
125 of the Maastricht Treaty explicitly barred the bailout of a Member State (Featherstone 59). Therefore, in spring of 2010, when the market stopped lending money to Greece, and when the Greek Prime Minster George Papandreou called for financial support from the EU,
the Member States did not know how to react according to the rules. Merkel was approached for help prior to this, to which she responded 'Greece will not be left alone, but
1 the rules must be upheld' (BBC 'Inside Europe: Ten Years of Turmoil'). The EU asylum policies were also not sufficient for coping with the extraordinary flow of migrants in the
Mediterranean that emerged in 2015. The Dublin Regulation stipulates that the first country of entry in the EU responsible for processing asylum seekers, which the European Court of
Human Rights and the EU Court of Justice had determined dysfunctional in 2011 (Lavenex 1197). After the Balkan crisis in the 1900s, the first attempt at the standardisation of asylum policies, the Temporary Protection Directive, was created in 2001. It provided for voluntary relocation on the basis of group determination (Lavenex 1203). However, the Commission had no power to enforce the solidarity required by the Temporary Protection Directive
(Scipioni 1363). Faced with an unprecedented number of illegal border crossing (in 2016,
Frontex reported 803,056 illegal border crossings via the Eastern Mediterranean route and 696,529 via the Western Balkans route) and asylum applications (increased by over 3,000 per cent compared to 2015), the asylum management mechanism crumbled under pressure
(Monar 134). Therefore, the Italian PM Matteo Renzi had to call a European Council meeting to ask other European leaders to share the burden.
However, an asymmetry in the EU Member States' interests and political demands from home delays or even prevents the finding of a new coping mechanism. Sandra Lavenex
(2018) points out the 'organised hypocrisy' in the Common European Asylum System (CEAS).
According to Lavenex, during the refugee crisis, a gap between the 'technical environment'
and the 'normative environment' of the EU clearly emerged. The technical environment is institutionalist, and actor-centred (Lavenex 1199). In this environment, the Member States'
interests rule supreme, which result in protectionist policies. This is contrasted with the normative environment, which consists of EU values, including offering humanitarian protection to refugees. Hypocrisy, not as a moral judgement, but as a structural outcome, is
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