Montesquieu Institute: from science to society

Is Europe wrapped up in a crisis? IF so, where and which kind of crisis?

Friday, April 20 2012, 14:50

During the Masterclass lecture of March 29, 2012 a great number of questions were addressed. They were put i=on the agenda by Professor Klamer of the Erasmus University.

The major point was, that culture is less universal and flexible, while the economy can be standardised. Europe is no exception to this rule. During the lecture a difference between north and south in Europe became apparent. It is one of the important factors in research, analysis and resolving of what is, by many, seen as a European crisis.

The big question remains: what is a crisis and is this term appropriate with regard to the present situation in Europe? A crisis is a problem, but a problem is not necessarily a crisis. A crisis is a fundamental problem: a total, systemic and structural confusion. A loss of narrative. This is not applicable to the present crisis. The system itself is not debated, since there is no new narrative. The analysis is that certain political actors, e.g. in the United States, pushed the narrative of crisis. If this would be taken over in general, it would open the gates for aid to banks through a variety of aid-programmes which would be impossible under normal circumstances. The framing was very successful and created a window of opportunity for supportive policies to be approved and applied. The media played an important role. They adopted the crisis discourse and the crisis game started.

Two factors were important in the development of the European Union. The first was the urge to use economic cooperation to prevent another outbreak of war on the European continent. Countries would become mutually dependent and refrain from waging war.

The second important factor was caused by the first. Due to the closer cooperation within Europe a European arena was formed which stimulated European governance. In this European development, market and governance played a dominant role. This power brought forth an urge to use it on a global stage, since this would make a representation of European interests more effective.

The problem in Europe is that the system of informal relations in society, which is not influenced by governance or market, has not kept up with the European developments. A large part of the present European problem. A European society does not exist. There is a sphere in which citizens live: oikos. A sphere which does not stimulate to go outside its borders, while in the present situation this could have a positive influence.

The notions of oikos and society have a clear non-financial content, which is essential for the development of Europe. During the lecture it was emphasized that these spheres contain values, norms and trust. Market, on the contrary, has a strong connotation of distrust. Society suffers In a situation in which market related problems are dominant. Little trust is found within Europe. It is important that legitimacy is stimulated. Legitimacy in Europe is a difficult issue as we have seen in many earlier lectures of this Masterclass series. The conclusion is that society in Europe is an issue which needs a great deal of TLC.