Searching for the Soul of Europe: The Impact of the Sovereign Debt Crisis on an ‘Ever Closer Union’
The destruction of global financial markets and the collapse of the Greek and Irish economies in 2010 caused a ripple effect that spread across the Eurozone and presented the EU with an unprecedented crisis. The level of economic devastation led many to question the integrity of the single currency and the direction of the European project as a whole. This thesis has examined three rounds of debate during the Sovereign Debt Crisis between 2010 and 2014, in order to ascertain the effect of this period on three competing ‘visions’ for the future of Europe. It has found that efforts to reform economic governance in the EU in the wake of the crisis have for the most part led to an entrenchment of the consolidation orthodoxy sponsored by Germany and its allies in northern Europe. However, a political turning point in mid-2012 led to a reprieve for the European Left and the subsequent advancement of the Social European vision advocating greater solidarity in the place of fiscal austerity. While the consolidation coalition’s commitment to economic stability and oversight has for the most part been maintained, the shifting balance of power in European politics, and an increasing frustration with the failures of austerity, have provided momentum for a major revision to the status quo. This thesis has found that while the Eurosceptic rise in the 2014 elections has raised serious questions for the EU, it has highlighted the unwavering commitment towards further integration among the dominant political actors in Europe, and will most likely set the Continent further along the path towards an ever closer union.