Rethinking Europe’s Boundaries of Action and Inaction: Crisis and Beyond

Panel Code

This panel explores the boundaries of the European Union’s action and inaction in the context of multiple crises. It examines the causes of crises and the contexts that both enable and constrain effective responses at an EU level.

It seems that every day the future of the EU is less and less a good news story. It seems to reflect little of the original visionary ideals of European unity. Trust and solidarity seem to be in short supply. There are so many challenges – the refugee crisis, Brexit, Ukraine, Russia, Turkey, youth unemployment, austerity, racism, terrorism and the list goes on. The grand ideal of overcoming nationalism is looking a bit tattered. And nationalism itself has been hijacked by extremists.

It is not so much geographical boundaries and borders that are evident in Europe – but boundaries to action in legitimacy and governance; identity and gender; and external pressures. How has the EU been transformed and how have its states and citizens been part of that transformation? What are the implications of the EU’s attempts to be a global leader in a multipolar and instable world? How can the EU ‘Make Europe Trade Again’? What role does the EU play in engagement with other regions? Or are the EU’s contemporary crises effectively a cautionary tale for other regional bodies? What are the challenges of Brexit? How is the EU dealing with the tensions between disintegration and further integration? Is there still a visionary ideal of European Unity?

Europe, it appears, has lost its sheen. Its narratives of hope and solidarity appear to be defensive and unconvincing. A narrative of crisis is displacing the narrative of peace and success. Many are not won over by the argument that national sovereignty and EU membership are compatible. And yet there is reason for optimism and this panel will provide some of that optimism too.