News from May 30, 2018
This paper deals with two litmus tests for theories of European integration. The first part asks, how and to what extent various approaches can explain the contemporary crises of European integration. It thereby tackles the question whether European integration theories might have biased EU scholars towards ignoring evidence for (dis-)integration. While being more optimistic about the state of the Union than many EU scholars are, the paper argues for a more differentiated conceptualization of integration as a continuous variable that takes disintegration rather than stagnation or no integration as the opposite value of integration. The second part of the paper asks to what extent European integration theories are able to shed light on experiences with regionalism across the globe. It argues that they do provide plausible accounts for the emergence of regionalism around the world. Comparing regions points to important scope conditions under which European integration theories operate. When it comes to outcomes, however, they need to be complemented by explanations emphasizing diffusion to explain why and when states are more inclined to pool and delegate sovereignty in some regions than in others.
After twenty years of continuous deepening and widening, European integration has entered an era of recurrent crises. Most students of the European Union (EU) seem to agree that the constitutional equilibrium between intergovernmental and supranational institutions has changed. Some see “new intergovernmentalism” and “integration without supranationalisation” prevail. Others contend that we witness a series of functional and institutional spillovers empowering supranational institutions. This paper argues that governance approaches are particularly useful to address the puzzling counter-positions represented in the current debate about the ‘nature of the beast. They are better equipped to explore how and to what end institutional structures and processes have responded to the crises than mainstream integration theories.
The paper starts with introducing the “governance turn” in EU studies as the attempt of EU scholars in the early 1990s to capture the nature of the EU. It then presents a typology that is based on a broad concept of governance as institutionalized forms of political coordination. The empirical part uses this typology to give an overview of the structures and processes of EU governance before applying it to the financial and the migration crises. The paper concludes with a discussion of the major challenges for European integration (theories) from a governance perspective, particularly with regard to managing current and preventing future crises.
In this paper we seek to explain why bank performance has varied so dramatically during and after the financial crisis on Europe’s periphery, both across states and within them. Our dependent variable is bank performance defined in terms of credit provision and banks’ contribution to financial stability. Our independent variable is the particular mix at play between political/social purpose and what we call ‘market authority’ - the importance of market incentives, signals and pricing within a particular financial ‘ecosystem’. “Economic nationalism” or the politicization of local and regional banks has often imbued banks with social and political goals, serving the economy at different levels, and is one major source of political/social purpose. But the latter must be constrained by market authority. We argue that for optimal bank performance, economic nationalism or political/social purpose must be constrained by market authority, otherwise a political logic (e.g. cronyism, a lack of professionalism, and deficits in banking expertise) can easily subvert or distort credit provision and undermine financial stability.
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