How Eurobonds Relate to European Integration

Mainstream discourse on the European financial and economic crisis seems stuck on the  international divide between “core” and “peripheral” Eurozone countries, with the former advocating for more, the latter for less austerity. By contrast, the three authors of the FEPS Young Academics Tetwork believe that it is at least equally relevant to frame the contrast in political terms, i.e. between conservatives and progressives. The former increasingly advocate for a ‘singularisation’ of nations within Europe while (perhaps not without contradictions) the latter try to formulate ideas of solidarity. Solidarity is indeed fundamental, for it is a major political goal to make Europe and the Eurozone further integrate both as economic unities and as political as well as social communities. However, it should be recalled that ‘more Europe’ and therefore political solidarity would also bring about economic benefits. Thus, the aim of this paper is to highlight the interrelation of this dual order of benefits from solidarity – the community building and the strictly economic one – and the resulting double nature of the European debate, which seems at once highly technical and de-politicised as well as in the same time emotional and ‘over-politicised’.

The three authors - Carlo D'IPPOLITI, Álvaro IMBERNÓN SÁINZ, Benjamin WILHELM - discuss the proposal to launch common European bonds (that, despite the several versions proposed so far, we will generically denote as ‘Eurobonds’) as a relevant example, though they recognise that no single policy instrument is likely to solve all the problems, and a bundle of measures will probably be necessary. Eurobonds are an interesting case study because, on the one hand, the discussion around them has often been connected to the idea of a stricter fiscal union, and they are therefore a good example of how economics and community building are to be thought together. On the other hand, recent developments (especially the Outright Monetary Transactions scheme launched by the ECB and the September 2012 German Constitutional Court ruling on the EFSF) seem to have lowered momentum for an agreement on Eurobonds.

Because the discussion on Eurobonds is both technically and emotionally connoted in the discourse, the purpose of this paper is to connect both discourses. Turopean Union (Antonsich, 2008). The paper is divided into three sections :

First, it provides a short introduction to the debate on the current crisis

Second, it reviews the ‘technical’ arguments in favour and against Eurobonds

Third, it deals with the ‘emotional’ side of the debate, by reconstructing three rhetorical logics at work at the same time:

(a) the growing tendency of nationalization to become a main reference point;

(b) the link between the technical discussions and both national borders and transnationally formulated ideas;

(c) the perspectival difference of proponents and opponents to Eurobonds, a difference that turns out to be not about the goal of implementing Eurobonds: the common narrative is saying that Eurobonds might be established, but: for their present opponents, after several reforms have been enacted, and for their supporters, Eurobonds themselves might lead to a necessary institutional change after their implementation.

Background about the FEPS Young Academics Network

The three authors of this study are Carlo D’IPPOLITI, Álvaro IMBERNÓN SÁINZ and Benjamin WILHEL (see details in the PDF)

The Young Academics Network (YAN) was established in March 2009 by the Foundation of European Progressive Studies (FEPS) with the support of the Renner Institut to gather progressive PhD candidates and young PhD researchers, who are ready to use their academic experience in a debate about the Next Europe. The founding group was composed of awardees of the “Call for Paper” entitled “Next Europe, Next Left” – whose articles also help initiating the FEPS Scientific Magazine “Queries”. Quickly after, with the help of the FEPS member foundations, the group enlarged presently incorporating around 30 outstanding and promising young academics.

FEPS YAN meets in the Viennese premises of Renner Institut, which offers great facilities for both reflections on the content and also on the process of building the network as such. Both elements constitute mutually enhancing factors, which due to innovative methods applied makes this Network also a very unique project. Additionally, the groups work has been supervised by the Chair of the Next Left Research Programme, Dr. Alfred Gusenbauer who at multiple occasions joined the sessions of the FEPS YAN, offering his feedback and guidance.

This paper is one of the results of the second cycle of FEPS YAN, (the first one ended with three papers in June 2011), in which 5 key themes were identified and are being currently researched by FEPS YAN working groups. These topics encompass: “Education, Labour and Skills”, “Economic governance in the EU”, “Migration and Reassessment of integration models”, “Youth unemployment” and “Social Europe and public opinion”. Each of the meetings is an opportunity for the FEPS YAN to discuss the current state of their research, presenting their findings and questions both in the plenary, as also in the respective working groups. The added value of their work is the pan-European, innovative, interdisciplinary character not to mention, that it is by principle that FEPS wishes to offer a prominent place to this generation of academics, seeing in it a potential to construct alternative that can attract young people to progressivism again. Though the process is very advanced already, the FEPS YAN remains a Network and hence is ready to welcome new participants.

FEPS YAN plays also an important role within FEPS structure as a whole. The FEPS YAN members are asked to join different events (from large Conferences, such as FEPS “Call to Europe” or “Renaissance for Europe” and PES Convention to smaller High Level Seminars and Focus Group Meetings) and encouraged to provide inputs for publications (i.e. for FEPS Scientific Magazine “Queries”). Enhanced participation of the FEPS YAN Members in the overall FEPS life and increase of its visibility remains one of the strategic goals of the Network for 2013.

 See the first paper - The European Youth Guarantee: a reality check