Interdisciplinary Contributions to Contemporary Cultural Debates
The European Crisis and the Idea of Unification in the German Public: Philosophical Legacies, Political Challenges
The European Crisis and the Idea of Unification in the German Public:Philosophical Legacies, Political Challenges
Russell A. Berman
The financial meltdown of 2008 at first seemed to spare Europe, as European commentators looked with some Schadenfreude across the Atlantic, imagining that the crisis would do significant damage only in the US, and presumably deservedly so: was not the US the crucible of that malignant neoliberalism that was the cause of it all? Yet such premature gloating soon passed, as the economic tremors resonated through Europe as well: with the real estate crisis in Spain, compounded by banking crises, the sovereign debt crisis throughout Southern Europe, and the complexities of the shared currency without a unified polity. Europe’s unwieldy institutions and processes made matters worse. A common and binding fiscal policy was missing, while a complicated array of treaties and intergovernmental arrangements, filtered through the supranational bureaucratic structures, contribute to a general immobility: what holds for the Eurozone is different from what holds for the EU, not to mention the various special arrangements with countries as diverse as Switzerland and Norway. Europe, as it exists, is a complex network, poorly equipped to respond nimbly to a crisis.
Despite the multidimensional and continent-wide character of the economic challenges, during 2012 attention focused particularly on Greece. Would European institutions bail out the Greek government before it became insolvent? Which institutions would bear the costs? And according to what rules? It was not only Germany, but it...
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