Federal Dynamics and European Union Crisis Politics

Thursday, July 13, 2017
East Quad Lecture Theatre (University of Glasgow)
Philipp Trein , University of Lausanne
This paper analyzes EU crisis politics through the lens of research on federal dynamics. Notably, the paper takes a look at the capacity to act of the EU in the economic and debt crisis as well as at the migration crisis, using theories and concepts coined in the research on federal dynamics, notably the analysis of federal politics in times of crisis. The paper argues that – similar to all coupled systems, i.e. federations, confederations, or institutional configurations, – the relationship between the EU and its member states coevolved towards deeper integration. Through economic and monetary integration, the EU has undergone a process of federalization by stealth. In other words, the degree to which competences have been transferred to the central level resembles federal countries but the EU does not posses the capacity to act and respond to policy challenges that is inherent in federal political systems. During the current crises, the EU faces enhanced opportunistic behavior of member states, similar to other federal systems. Nevertheless, other than federal systems it lacks the political capacity for centralized solutions to severe crisis problems and faces, thus, challenges of desolidarisation, i.e. fierce Euro-skepticism. Overall, this paper contributes to the understanding of EU politics by applying the findings from the literature on federal dynamics to the European Union.
  • Trein_Fed_EU.pdf (301.0 kB)