euro-break-upBack in January of this year, Croatia held a referendum on whether or not they should join the European Union (with a majority ultimately backing membership). We used the occasion to ask whether you thought the crisis had made EU membership less attractive for prospective member-states. Today, though, we want to ask a slightly different question: is this the end of the EU as a prospective model for regional integration? Are we moving back towards a Westphalian world, with international relations reduced to a strictly intergovernmental affair?

One commenter, Baris, suggested that it wasn’t so much the crisis itself that had made EU membership less attractive, but rather “European leader’s reluctant behaviour in saving the euro. Being late and paying more.

The European Union has often been held up as a model for other parts of the world to follow. Whilst Europe has been the pioneer, there are other regional organisations that (superficially) resemble the EU; the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), the African Union (AU) and Mercosur in South America, for example. However, none of them even come close to the EU in terms of the pooling of sovereignty. And, as the rest of the world watches with growing alarm as the eurozone crisis rumbles on, perhaps none of them ever will.

Last month, Debating Europe attended a panel discussion at the Italian Cultural Institute in Brussels involving Professor Andrew Moravcsik of Princeton University. Professor Moravcsik stressed that, even if the euro doesn’t survive the crisis, the EU model of cooperation between states should not be seen as a failure. He pointed to the single market, EU enlargement, the Schengen area and other achievements as things Europeans should be proud of:

This is an unbelievable record of success over the last 25 years, and it will stand whether or not the euro proceeds, because they are self-justifying as succesful exercises in international policy coordination, and not only should Europeans not forget it, but they should not forget to tell the Americans and the Chinese every single time they see them.

Earlier this year, Friends of Europe held an event in Brussels to coincide with the 45th anniversary of the foundation of ASEAN. We spoke to David O’Sullivan, Chief Operating Officer of the European External Action Service, and asked him if the current crisis was raising questions about the sustainability of the EU model:

We also spoke to Rajat Nag, Managing Director General of the Asian Development Bank, and asked him whether the eurozone crisis had reaffirmed ASEAN’s decision to follow a more intergovernmental approach to regional cooperation:

What do YOU think? Does the eurozone crisis spell the end of the EU as a model for regional integration? Will other parts of the world now be more reluctant to experiment with sharing their sovereignty? Or should Europeans be proud of what the EU has achieved, even if the single currency collapses? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below, and we’ll take them to policy-makers and experts for their reactions.

26 comments Post a commentcomment

  1. avatar
    Ignacio C. Furfaro

    Yes, I believe this has acted and will continue to act as a deterrent for regional integration, all over the world. Countries are now much more cautious when it comes to integration. Nevertheless, I truly do not belive either the EU or the Eurozone will collapse…All the countries will do what it takes to keep them alive, even finally achieving the political union…because in the end they know together we’re strong, but divided we are no one in this changing world.

  2. avatar
    Gerry Mavris

    I completely agree with your statement Ignacio- “I truly do not belive either the EU or the Eurozone will collapse…All the countries will do what it takes to keep them alive, even finally achieving the political union…because in the end they know together we’re strong, but divided we are no one in this changing world.

  3. avatar
    Helena Jeanne Tina Fornaro

    First of all let us all remember that such a long peaceful period since WW2 on the continent among member states was the direct effect of EU integration. The next steps have to include more integration, and more interaction of the citizens.

  4. avatar
    Nikolai Holmov

    “Does the Eurozone crisis spell the end of the EU as a model for regional integration?” In a word – No.

    The EU is much more than simply about the currency it uses and as has been said above, whether the survival of the Euro occurs or not, the EU will continue in one form or another.

    If the question was “does the Eurozone crisis mean the slowing of regional integration?” Then possibly the answer would be “Yes” as most potential candidates need considerable help to reach the Maastricht and Copenhagen Criteria. That invariably will mean time, money or more often than not, both.

    As the EaP suffers set back after set back and 2012 will see further setbacks in Ukraine, Belarus and Georgia, not to mention a less than cooperative Azerbaijan, it seems more likely that the biggest hurdles to regional integration are indeed the Maastricht and Copenhagen documents.

    It is hard to identify a single EaP nation that doesn’t work on the Arbiter and Rental Society system and that simply doesn’t conform to the doctines the EU sets for new members.

    In fact, in both Bulgaria and Hungary, the Arbiter system of governance seems to be returning rather quickly.

    The issue of the Eurozone crisis as a determining factor relating to the long-term attractiveness of the EU is something of a false flag.

  5. avatar
    Andreea Nicula

    I would argue that the European model as it has been theoretically sketched was great for evolving towards a complete union. Of course, slight imperfections could be seen in the plan; but the major drawback of the EU was that it has not respected the theoretical plan it has come up with. Starting with Germany, all the states considered the breaking of the Maastricht rules as a short-term issue which cannot lead to further complications.
    But, as we see now, the situation was more damaging than previously thought. However, I would argue that the main fault is not Greece (or any other “problem” country), but rather the other countries that should have raised questions and warnings that the levels were broken and that they should be once again reinforced. Sadly, all member states were in a consensus to profit from this situation of ignorance – and now they claim that Greece and other PIIGS should leave the Eurozone etc. It is obvious that the question should have been: was it ever worth it that they enter the Eurozone? The answer is Yes – but only for the short term (remember how much Germany has profited before and during the Olympics in Greece).

    To answer the question – The EU model itself was theoretically sustainable. What other countries should fear of is breaking the model for the short-term-profits’ sake. Only in this case can we say that the EU crisis spells the end of the EU as a model for regional integration.

    I invite everybody to debate on this issue.

  6. avatar
    Christos Mouzeviris

    I agree with Pham… But has Europe learned its lesson and correct its mistakes? Or will it become the bad example for the rest of the world? What we tried to achieve in our continent was marvelous and a brilliant example. A goal worth fighting for. We messed it up. So instead of blaming the poor euro and the EU, why don’t we never blame ourselves (our nations) for being too greedy, corrupt, power mongering, selfish, and short-sighted? Are we end up as a divorced couple who had it all, but because of selfishness and stupidity wrecked the marriage and all they have now are loving memories of the past? Why instead of becoming a pioneer and an example to follow for all others, we are willing to become an example to avoid?

  7. avatar
    Paulo Martinho

    Well we can ask ourselves if there was ever a “a model for regional integration”, well at last a for a sustained integration. The selfish kleptocratic governments of the PIIGS and the cannibalistic nature of big money make it rather difficult. “…should Europeans be proud of what the EU has achieved, even if the single currency collapses?”…EU pride seems to be expensive and nefarious.

  8. avatar

    „… is this the end of the EU as a prospective model for regional integration? Are we moving back towards a Westphalian world, with international relations reduced to a strictly intergovernmental affair?“

    Neither nor! The EU will balance somewhere between. Since 1992 it swang to far in the direction of an autocratic/totalitarian empire. Totalitarian in language and autocratic in decision making. The current attempt to go even further towards centralisation and autocratic rule will fail. But there will be no return to a Westphalian modle either, but somewhere inbetween.
    The current crisis is not so much about the €uro but that EU institutions (Commission, Council etc.) do not represent the WILL oft the people of Europe sufficiently but listen to much to other supranational/international bureaucrats like UNO, OECD, WTO, IMF, UNESCO etc. and even other empires like the USA or China.
    EU institutions are not enough working for Europe and in accordance with the interest of European people but more in favour of their own petit interest as bureaucrats and organisations. The EU together with other supra- and international organisations can be seen as a new aristocratic feudal structure with a global pretension. This causes the return of the people to their national institutions, although those have already been significantly damaged by the EU integration process, which can lead to chaotic situations in Europe.

    If the EU wants to stay here for some time, it must open listen more to the minds and interests of Europeans and less to those of the outside world. .

    • avatar
      catherine benning

      I go along with this poster Bastian utterly.

      If you give up on the idea of a United Europe, what will that do to get us out of the mess we are in? Not a lot.

      What Europe must do is stop playing partial games of maybe and maybe. Think of this as if we were at war. What moves would you take to make sure we won that war? It is that serious.

      If you think clearly, and with maturity, rather than constantly playing idiot games of political correct nonsense, you will be able to set this project on the road to the kind of Europe it should and can be. With the backing of all of its people behind you. Without which it will surely fail.

  9. avatar
    eusebio manuel vestias pecurto

    Isto é o que hoje todos os Europeus olham este mundo real da Eurozona o fim da moeda unica Olhamos para o passado da UE quantas crises ultrapassamos na Europa ela vai ultrapassar esta crise agora são os lideres da UE que vão decidir eu como europeu quero a moeda e mais forte para que as novas gerações olhem para a Europa com futuro e alegria

  10. avatar
    Peter Schellinck

    Other parts of the world are laughing their heads off with our inability to get our act together. We have done a perfect preparation job to get the EU on the map and are pulling it all apart with our negative moods and doom scenarios. Stop the doom and the gloom and let’s show what Europe can do. Make it finally a true single open market and you’ll see who’ll last laugh… please can we focus on some positive stories!

  11. avatar
    Dorian Bratu

    EU is getting more like U.S.S.R.! This how we see now E.U. in Romania, after Angela Merkel and Barroso, two “former” communist activist, killed the will of the Romanian people to dismiss the mafia president Basescu! Hope will get out of this soon to be scocialist empire that steps over its citizens dead bodies!

  12. avatar
    Catalin Vasile

    Last month in my country, Romania, a refrendum for the dismissal of the president was held! E.U. through Angela Merkel and Barroso, 2 former communist activist, have broke the Romanian Constitution and the Romanian laws, forcing my country’s government to impose a cvorum of 50+1% of the citizens, even if in EU this cvorum does not exist and the Venice Comission have decided that such a cvorum is not democratic!
    Consequently, 8.2 million votes have been taken to trash, and the mafia president returned to the office these days even if 7.5 million citizens asked for his dismissal!
    In Romania, finally, people start to see what really means the E.U.: A RETURN TO THE BOLSHEVIC TIMES WE JUST ESCAPED FROM 23 YEARS AGO, a dark period of 5 decades, in which we where thrown in by the same Europe who sold us to the bolshevic U.S.S.R.!
    E.U. is no better than U.S.S.R. or the 3rd Reich: walks on the dead bodies of its citizens and claims it is for the greater good! In fact, the E.U. is a menace to our liberties, imposing it’s will through people that are not even elected by the european peoples!
    I sincerely hope and do everything I can to live the day when in Romania the European flag will be brought down, thrown to the trash can and the E.U. clerks will be denied to entry on our soil!

  13. avatar
    Natasa Jevtovic

    EU is a model, it always will be. Even Greece doesn’t want to step out and will end up playing by the rules.

  14. avatar
    Peter Schellinck

    Whatever choice Europeans make, there is nothing deterministic about it, as Europe’s own history since World War II has taught us. Europe’s most noble task will be to believe in its own capacity for change, while preserving democracy, human rights and the rule of law. Democracy is slow, but precisely because of this, it has time to adjust its course. A snail has more time to adjust than a speeding hare.

    Moreover, wherever democracy goes, it knows it has the people with it – even those who are in the minority – and that is half the success of any national or federal venture. Democracy – a healthy, uncorrupted democracy where debate is free, a multitude of opinions can come to the fore and corruption and crime are nipped in the bud – is also the best way to prevent the rise of usurpers and tyrants.

    The model is still in the making and the creator, The European Parliament, must continue to upgrade its performance. The European political parties should revitalise themselves by campaigning to make a reality of the EU citizenship and championing the development of the common area of freedom, security and justice.

    We strongly should support the proposal to establish a transnational constituency for a certain number of MEPs in time for the 2014 elections. National parliaments should recall the motivation behind the Schuman Declaration and to confirm the Union’s mission to peace, solidarity and enlargement. These are the next steps towards the building of a European federation.

    The task force established under the authority of President Van Rompuy must urgently emulate the Schuman Declaration in terms of courage and clarity of purpose.

    • avatar

      The British people simply don’t want to be part of a federal Europe. It is not a question of economics or status; we simply won’t accept foreign rule. And we are not alone 1n this.

      There will need to be Inner and Outer EU membership options, and they need to be clarified soon. Within 5 years Britain (perhaps without Scotland) will have a referendum. The choice will either be ‘in or out’ or ‘outer or out’.

      If the choice is in or out we will undoubtedly choose out. Others will follow.

  15. avatar
    Carlos Campos

    During a long time Europe, was build in and to economical/financial ideas…today, we are seeing the limits of that “model”. The alternative, is the events from 1914 to 1945… Its not easy,to go beyond the pocket of common citizen and the final line in financial statement, but the alternative “Yugoslavia” is scary enough.

  16. avatar
    Nico Keppens

    I agree with those who say that the European model will stay, and that other regions in the world should better take it over. One main correction should be made, though. One should take up the subsidiarity principle more into account: let decisions on issues be taken at the most appropriate level. This would not only be more effective, it would also help to make citizens accept the democratic value of the EU, and to get away of the perception that ‘all is decided in Brussel’. In order to achieve this perhaps citizens, instead of criticising the EU, should better urge the current generation of politicians in the different member states to keep the common goal in perspective: to agree and to work towards a European region that is capable to continue improving the way of living of their citizens ánd to share its knowledge and experience with other parts in the world.
    And why is the European model so important? Because it has shown that it is possible to make countries – so often in war with each other in the past – work together, to agree together on decisions that helped to improve the lives of their citizens. Why to throw that all away now for too narrow minded visions that in the long term will only achieve the contrary?

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