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EU Summit Shows Divides over EU Powers and Integration

January 31, 2012

The EU today had yet another summit in Brussels about how to handle the European Debt Crisis.  The two main items discussed were the idea of an EU Commissioner managing Greece’s fiscal policy and a new treaty that promises to resolve the crisis.

First: the idea of an EU Commissioner for Greece.  As the EUobserver stated, if approved, this is clearly a radical departure for the EU.  The Commission is a very important institution of the EU, but it is supposed to be equal to or even weaker than the Council of Ministers, which represents the member states.  To have a commissioner responsible for managing a member state would be uncharted territory.  Member states guard their sovereignty and tend to only surrender it for specific issues where the EU is better at solving the problem than the individual states.  However, this proposed EU Commissioner would greatly curtail the sovereignty of one country.  It is a small wonder that many EU member states have come out opposed to the idea, even if they think Greece is not doing enough to solve its problems.

Second: Treaty Revisions.  While the BBC reported that some leaders do not think that the revisions go far enough, others think that it goes too far in some areas.  Many EU countries that do not use the euro are concerned that they will not be able to attend summits on the euro, even though they are suppose to eventually adopt the euro.  Others worry that the treaty focuses too much on balanced budgets and not enough on other ways to strengthen economies.  As the Economist has repeatedly reported, austerity by itself rarely does not solve debt crisis, and a more comprehensive solution is needed.

In addition to the actual effectiveness of these ideas at solving the crisis, the underlying future of the EU is being formed by discussions like those at this week’s summit.  The European Debt Crisis has forced the EU into uncharted waters, and it is starting to fracture.  The UK famously opted to use its “veto” over the fiscal compact and now the Czech Republic appears to be joining them.  The Irish Prime Minister is also worrying that he will have to call a referendum on the treaty revisions, it will be defeated by the Irish voters, and Ireland would then have to withdraw from the euro.  This would be ironic, as Ireland is the one PIIGS country that has managed to regain the markets’ confidence (see NPR story).

The result is that the future of European integration is becoming less and less certain.  To further understand these events, the EU Center at Indiana Univeristy will be offering two webinars to explore these questions:

  1. The Euro Crisis and European Integration on February 22, starting at 4:00PM EST and led by Dr. Dr. Andreas Hauskrecht, Associate Professor at the Indiana University Kelley School of Business
  2. Supranationalism: the Case of the European Union on February 28, starting at 4:00PM EST and led by Brant Beyer, EU Center Project Manager.

Both of these webinars are free and teachers can receive one professional growth point.  To register click here for The Euro Crisis and European Integration and here for Supranationalism: The Case of the European Union.  We hope to see you there.

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