Europe has been in “crisis mode” for almost a decade. The financial crisis, the sovereign debt crisis, the unemployment crisis, the Ukraine crisis, the refugee crisis, the Grexit crisis, the Brexit crisis – a constant stream of risks and threats to the EU’s stability and long-term prosperity.
Is this just how the world works now? Is it the “new normal” for European leaders to be dashing about madly, constantly scrambling to put out one fire as five more burst aflame nearby? Perhaps we should adjust our expectations accordingly?
There have, of course, been crises in the past. However, it feels like the “boom” has been taken out of the “boom and bust” cycle, with Europe struggling through long periods of anaemic disappointment, punctuated by the odd white-knuckle moment of flat-out crisis.
It’s possible that 24-hour news (and the rise of social media) have encouraged this sense of perma-crisis, accentuating the negative for the sake of attention. Overall quality of life is still very high in Europe compared to almost anywhere in the world, and it’s easy to look back at “pre-crisis” Europe with rose-tinted glasses. On the other hand, it could be that the EU is going through a “lost decade“, similar to the situation experienced in Japan after 1991.
We had a comment sent in from Susan, who said it feels like Europe has been embroiled in one existential crisis or another for almost ten years:
The 2007-2008 financial crisis started when I was just in school. Ever since then (for all my adult life, basically) it feels like Europe has been lurching from one crisis to another. What does a post-crisis Europe look like?
To get a response, we spoke to Dora Kostakopoulou, Professor of European Union Law, European Integration and Public Policy at the University of Warwick in England. How would she respond to Susan?
It is very, very difficult for the younger generation to see a bright future for Europe. Of course, there are many, many external situations that are responsible for this crisis. At the same time, we have to accept that there is a degree of responsibility on behalf of both national and European leaders to navigate Europe through this crisis, and also not to increase the pressure that people experience as a result of the shocks.
Concerning the various crises in Europe, party elites have been responsible for creating further crises and unnecessary turmoil by stimulating various political events which increase the pressures that we experience. For example, the EU membership referendum in the UK has more to do with internal politics within the Conservative party, and their own ideological positions with respect to Europe and national sovereignty than the UK’s actual membership.
So, a post-crisis Europe would be a Europe in which everybody has the opportunity to flourish, has the opportunity to travel, has the opportunity to experience new things in all Member States, feels at home everywhere in Europe, and is able to choose his or her own professional or personal home. This is the Europe that we experience as professionals, and this is the Europe we really love, precisely because of the options it generates for everybody.
What would a “post-crisis” Europe look like? Is Europe going through a “lost decade”, similar to the one Japan experienced after 1991? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the from below, and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!