Book review by Hanns W. Maull covering The Delphic Oracle on Europe

Europe's Decline, Continued


Vol. 53, No 6 11/2011

Link to Survival

The Delphic Oracle on Europe, co-edited by Loukas Tsoukalis and Janis A. Emmanouilidis, was reviewed by Hanns W. Maull in the academic journal Survival (Vol. 53, No 6, pp. 197-204). Here a number of quotes:

"The volume edited by Loukas Tsoukalis and Janis Emmanouilidis (The Delphic Oracle on Europe) offers particularly pertinent and elegant analyses of what went wrong in specific policy areas – as, for example, in the contributions by Pier Carlo Padoan (on Europe’s growth prospects), Dieter Helm (on the EU’s hopes for, but misguided policies on, green growth), André Sapir (on governance of the euro area) and Philippe Herzog (on the future of social Europe)."

"So far, the Europeans appear to be struggling to stay in the race for international competitiveness, and they have failed, rather abysmally, to address the design flaws of the European edifice. As Tsoukalis puts it in his concluding chapter, ‘Europe had neither the instruments nor the political will’ to deal with, in this case, the debt crisis (p. 209) – but one suspects that the argument holds broader relevance."

"Emmanouilidis cites a ‘loss of strategic orientation’, but did the EU ever have a strategic orientation, beyond European enlargement?"

"More fundamentally, Laïdi argues that there is a general aversion to risk in Europe, which limits the scope and the ambition of European foreign policies."

"The overall thrust of the analysis and recommendations presented in the other books is very similar. If Europe wants to survive and prosper despite ‘the end of the West’, it will need to reinvent itself, as a community and as an influential collective actor on the world stage. A key word in this context is ‘strategy’: time and again our authors bemoan a ‘loss of strategic orientation’ (Emmanouilidis), outline ‘why the EU needs a Grand Strategy’ (Howorth), demand that Europe ‘become a strategic actor’ (Biscop and Coelmont) and insist that it ‘get strategic about ideals and values’ (Youngs). What Europe lacks, it seems, is simply political will, competence and leadership."

"And yet I wonder. In an excellent contribution to The Delphic Oracle on Europe, Olaf Cramme points out that ‘leadership’ depends importantly on context, and that the context in which the EU now finds itself is much more demanding than it was, say, during the EU Commission presidency of Jacques Delors, a time when Europe enjoyed strong political leadership at the national as well as at the European level. Moreover, the notion that Europe needs only to ‘get strategic’ presumes that there is nothing seriously wrong politically with the European project as it stands now. Yet the diagnosis of Europe’s problems and their causes offered by these books suggests that those problems are, at their core, political in a more profound sense: European politics no longer seems capable of producing sufficient political will, competence and leadership. And the traditional way of advancing the European project – top-down, essentially technocratic and driven by bargaining between national elites – may have reached its limits. This crisis, in other words, may be different from those of the past: to prevail, Europe will have to rebuild its community from the bottom up, taking its peoples along."

For more information about the book review see here.

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