“Europe will be forged in crises” – predicted one of the ‘founding fathers’ of European integration, Jean Monnet. He was most certainly right about the latter: crises aplenty. In the past few years, the European Union has found itself facing Russia, China, and even the United States under President Trump; none of them are particularly friendly. The chilling of the external environment came at a conjuncture of internal crises: Brexit, anti-EU, nationalist movements and governments in member states, the declining faith of pro-EU elites in the idea of an ‘ever closer union’, and the conflict of creditor and debtor countries in the Eurozone and between the core and periphery. The former President of the European Council called these: unprecedented geopolitical and existential threats to the very survival of the EU. While politicians can disappear overnight, seemingly changing the landscape, the fundamentals of these crises remain.
The course engages with these ‘four crises’ of Europe: external, economic, internal, and ideational, and with the scholarly controversies about how to interpret them. In the final part, the course will look at whether these crises lead to further integration as Monnet predicted, and will consider recent proposals about how to reshape the EU, and what these possible responses may mean for the global order. The course is designed as a mix of interactive lectures and seminar discussions based on the required readings; it will engage with a wide variety of IR, IPE, and regionalism concepts and will also make use of contemporary sources (articles, speeches, etc.) to link scholarly approaches to interpreting current affairs, empirics to theory. The course normally includes a field trip to a border region (covid situation permitting) to experience first hand how the various concepts and policies on overlapping layers of integration function in real life and how they 'create integration', and to observe the current limits of this process, linked to our classroom discussions and readings.