Europe’s (Euro) Crisis of Legitimacy
Vivien Schmidt (Boston University)
Although ‘Brexit’ and the refugee crisis have grabbed today’s headlines, the European Union’s sovereign debt crisis continues. The Eurozone’s comparatively poor economic performance and continued political divisiveness have combined with processes focused on ‘governing by rules and ruling by numbers’ to generate an on-going crisis not just of economics and politics but also of democratic legitimacy. Professor Schmidt argues that the EU’s (euro) crisis of legitimacy centers on problems related to (a lack of) policy effectiveness, political responsiveness, and procedural quality. But she also contends that in pursuit of legitimacy as much as in response to deteriorating economics and increasing political volatility, EU institutional actors—ECB, Council, Commission, and EP—incrementally reinterpreted the rules and recalibrated the numbers ‘by stealth,’ that is, without admitting it in their public discourse. To theorize about such processes of ideational innovation and discursive legitimation during the Eurozone crisis, Prof. Schmidt uses the neo-institutionalist framework of discursive institutionalism.
Vivien Schmidt is Jean Monnet Professor of European Integration, Professor of International Relations in the Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies and Professor of Political Science at Boston University, as well as Founding Director of BU’s Center for the Study of Europe. She received her B.A. from Bryn Mawr College and her Masters and PhD from the University of Chicago. Schmidt’s research focuses on European political economy, institutions, democracy, and political theory—in particular on the importance of ideas and discourse in political analysis (discursive institutionalism). Her latest books include the forthcoming Europe’s Crisis of Legitimacy: Governing by Rules and Ruling by Numbers in the Eurozone (2019),Resilient Liberalism in Europe’s Political Economy (co-edited, 2013), Debating Political Identity and Legitimacy in the European Union (co-edited, 2011), Democracy in Europe (2006)—named in 2015 by the European Parliament as one of the ‘100 Books on Europe to Remember’—and The Futures of European Capitalism (2002). Her honors, awards, and fellowships include a Guggenheim Fellowship, an honorary doctorate from the Free University of Brussels (ULB), the Belgian Franqui Interuniversity Chair for foreign scholars, a Rockefeller Bellagio Center Residency, and Fulbright Fellowships to France and the UK.