TUES: The EU and its Multiple Crises: The End of Great Dreams?

The European Union was founded after World War II to bring Europe’s nations and people towards new cooperation, peace, and prosperity. Seventy years later the EU is grappling with overlapping multiple crises – in the Eurozone, with refugee, and the possibility that key members like the UK will leave, among others.

What has happened to the European dream? Can it be replaced by a new vision? What if it cannot?

On Tuesday George Ross, one of the great experts on the European Union, will provide some context to the current developments in the EU. He will speak:

Tuesday, April 12, 5-7pm
Levine-Ross, Hassenfeld Conference Center
RSVP here

Professor Ross is presently ad personam Chaire Jean Monnet at the University of Montreal-McGill Center for Excellence on the European Union, Canada (an appointment granted by the European Union to honor distinguished international contributions to the understanding of European integration). He served as chair of the European Union Studies Association (2003-2005), acting director of the Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies at Harvard University, executive director of the European Union Center at Harvard University, chair of the Council for European Studies (1990-1997), and as Director of the Center for German and European Studies at Brandeis (1998-2008). Click on the link for a more detailed bio.

5 Replies to “TUES: The EU and its Multiple Crises: The End of Great Dreams?”

  1. Hearing George Ross speak today was very interesting because previously I knew nothing about the state of the European Union. After his talk now I feel more aware of the complicated intertwining issues the European Union currently faces. Currently the European Union is facing issues with the financial state of the Eurozone (as several countries are struggling under mountains of debt), one of the largest immigrant populations since World War II escaping to the European Union, and the fact that some countries such as the United Kingdom are wanting to make a Brexit from the European Union. Unfortunately it is extremely hard to deal with these issues because the nations in the European Union rarely agree on any proposed solutions to any of these problems. This is especially true in the case of refugees seeking safety in the European Union in the last few years as the EU is struggling to find a good solution of how to help the refugees without putting all the responsibility on one European nation. Unfortunately though some countries just refuse to help and have closed their borders to prevent more immigrants from entering. These issues have caused rising tensions within the European Union and has made it difficult to solve anything at summits. Ross mentioned how currently there is a plan proposed to help solve the refugee issue, but he mentioned that it would very difficult to actually enact that plan and he was not sure if it was even legal. Overall, the issues within the European Union are large but hopefully will be solved somehow.

  2. The European Union currently faces three great crises. The worst thing about these crises is that they all overlap, creating a huge problem for the EU.

    One of crisis is Eurozone debt crisis. Ever since Greece’s government fell into bankruptcy and other Eurozone countries bailed it out, Europe’s global economy has not been doing so great. Greece has still yet to pay back the debt and is currently in recession and other European countries’ economies are falling as well. Despite countries use internal devaluation to cut back on own expenditures, it is still not enough. Because the EU worked together to bail out one nation, the entirety of Europe is facing economic crisis.

    The next crisis is the refugee crisis. Southern European states were initially excited about integration but commitment was harder than predicted. Ever since the greatest flux of immigration since World War II, European countries have created new policies in response. Many of them include measures on tracking new crime and increasing cooperation on immigration. European countries have attempted to “harmonize” policies for accommodating immigration as a way of creating some sort of universal measure everyone can and should do. However, some countries have reacted negatively to the new influx. Some created temporary borders and many of them shut down those borders to keep the refugees out of their own nations. This is a problem because for refugees, they would have to go through other nations that closed their borders in order to reach those that were accepting. As a response, the EU Commission proposes to share all 160,000 refugees amongst the nations. Unfortunately, all central European states refused. One of them (Slovakia) rejected because they only wanted Christians. So then the EU offered Turkey a deal. If they accepted refugees, they would get privileges like more priorities and rights on certain international issues. Whether this is an ethical or successful deal is still in debate. Because the RU is a collection of nations, this problem is more difficult because nations that agree and do not agree have to abide by the same set of rules that usually favor the majority which do not favor immigration integration.

    The last crisis is the Brexit crisis which is the possibility of Great Britain leaving the European Union. This exit could lead to huge risks on the financial stability of Europe. The EU’s attempt to keep Britain is difficult if unanimity is not met.

  3. The European Union was founded post-World War II, upon the dreams of integrating European countries to prevent nationalistic attitudes from creating another world war. Today, Professor George Ross argues that the EU is in decline in light of three contemporary crises: the Eurozone economic crisis of 2009, the refugee crisis, and the potential secession of Britain from the EU (Brexit). I can only see the confluence of these three crises further dividing member-states, as they defend their own interests. Since there is an unequal distribution of power in the EU (where Germany dominates), the poorer countries suffer the costs while the prosperous ones

    The formation of the EU parallels that of the United States. The EU attempts to govern over smaller territories, like the US Federal government does over states and also receives threats to secede from the UK, as South Carolina did to the Union during the American Civil War. However, uniting countries with established history and accustomed sovereignty is much harder than uniting territories in the New World. There is no tabula rusa. Nationalism and self-interest will split the countries apart as the more prosperous countries will not want to necessarily help the less prosperous countries, despite using the Euro. Moreover, the EU has no higher hard power to enforce any of its policies regarding economic recovery or refugee placement. It is solely a place where representatives of member-states convene, and the hegemonic power of Germany dominates, infringing upon national sovereignty of less powerful member-states. Such a state of world affairs is ironic because the hegemonic power of Germany initially inspired the idea of the EU, yet Germany has once again found itself on top.

  4. Being able to attend George Ross’ gave me a better understanding of the overall situation and struggles that The European Union currently faces. I really enjoyed the way in which he conducted the talk. Ross began by giving a statistical analysis about the situation The European Union faces and also gave a lot of open-ended questions but no real answers. This helped me analyze the situation more and be able to think for myself instead of just listening to his personal opinion. At the beginning, Ross said that “nobody studies the decline, but everyone is happy when everything is going well”. This quote struck me since I had never actually thought about this but it is something everybody does unconsciously.
    According to Ross, the European Union currently faces three great crises: Eurozone debt crisis, Refugee crisis, and the Brexit crisis. In all these three crises are all attached and influence each other somehow which causes an even greater problem for the European Union. There is no way for the European Union to just focus on one and move on since they are all connected and causes them to have the necessity to fix all of them. The Eurozone debt crisis reflects how Europe’s global economy has not been doing so great. Ross placed a lot of emphasis on Greece’s crisis, which is a big part of this since the entire European nation tried to help Greece caused the rest of Europe to still be on recession and at the same time did not help the crisis in Greece as evidenced by the fact that Greece is still in recession. The refugee crisis is also a crucial crises very difficult to deal with. Ross spoke about the Syrian refugees as being a big part of the crisis nowadays. As Ross mentioned, Asylum applicant migration has been increasing. It is the highest increase right now. This shows the importance as well as significance of the refugee crisis in the rebuilding of the european economy. Finally, Ross mentioned the Brexit crisis as one that is coming soon and has the potential of being the worst of all the crises. This crises is brought up by the possibility of having England leave the European Unions which could mainly lead to financial hardships throughout the rest of Europe due to England’s big influence on the economy.
    To conclude, I personally believe that the European Union will be able to arise from these great crises. I think that everything is a cycle and it will just go back to normal as soon as this cycle is over. This might take years to get fixed, but at some point they will be able to resolve all the problems. The only thing is that right now the situation does not look as it is going in the European Union’s favor, but the tables will turn hopefully sooner rather than later.

  5. George Ross’s talk on the crises of the European Union was very informative especially since I had no prior knowledge on the subject. He mentioned the three overlapping crises that the EU faces: The Eurozone debt crisis, the refugee crisis, and the possibility of Brexit.

    The Eurozone debt crisis started with members such as Greece and Spain that were unable to repay their government debt. As Ross mentioned, some factors that contributed to this crisis include the Great Recession followed by the Financial Crisis in 2008, and the real estate property bubbles. As a result, the European Union as a whole is experiencing lower business and economic confidence. I believe this economic challenge is more difficult to overcome with multiple nations sharing one monetary policy. Each individual economy is unique and have different structures. Therefore, this “one size fits all” model will not work.

    The refugee crisis is, to a great extent, a result of the conflict in Syria and the ongoing violence in Afghanistan and Iraq. With increasing numbers of people seeking for asylum, there is a huge controversy in the EU as to the correct solution. Having a collection of nations also creates greater difficulties since it is harder to achieve consensus over proposed solutions.

    The third crises of the possibility of Brexit threatens the financial stability of both European Union and the U.K. However, given the uncertainty of the votes of nations on the referendum, keeping the U.K. can be difficult.

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