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ECPR Futures Lab 2020

"Another Europe is possible"? On the meaning of Europe in Social Struggle over Austerity and Authoritarian Governance

Laura Horn
University of Roskilde
Laura Horn
University of Roskilde

In the context of the current economic, financial, political and social crises in the Eurozone and beyond, we are witnessing the mass mobilisation of citizens in many member states. Civil society organisations such as trade unions, NGOs and other associations here play a major role in articulating critique and formulating alternatives to the EU's crisis management consisting mainly of austerity programmes and authoritarian governance. In how far Europe, or rather, the European Union level, offers a social terrain for organising these struggles remains contested though. While one of the most prominent claims of these organised progressive social forces is that 'Another Europe is possible', there seems to be a great deal of confusion how this 'other Europe' would be constituted. All too often, Europe is conflated with the EU, which leads to tensions between fractions advocating an engagement within the institutional terrain of the EU, and other groups vehemently opposed to dialogue with the 'official' apparatus of the EU.
This paper investigates the contested nature of what constitutes 'Europe' in the context of mobilisation and resistance against the crisis management in the current Eurozone crisis. Using the case of these debates, the paper also seeks to contribute to a more methodologically reflective stance of EU Studies by arguing how the 'textbook' version of European integration and European history has led to a situation where the multiple possible meanings of 'Europe' have been monopolised by the European Union, and particular readings of how to understand the meaning of the EU.
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