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The Masks of the Political God by Luca Ozzano

Cross-National Solidarity and Political Sustainability in the EU after the Crisis

European Union
Maurizio Ferrera
Università degli Studi di Milano
Maurizio Ferrera
Università degli Studi di Milano
Carlo Burelli
Università degli Studi di Milano

The shocks of the last decade have put the EU to an extremely severe sustainability test, which has come short of jeopardizing its very existence. In this paper, we will focus and discuss the political roots of the crisis. Drawing on the (Weberian) tradition of political realism, we argue that in order to “exist” and persist over time qua political, a given territorial collectivity must meet some basic requirements. It must rest on a dense web of economic transactions and associational ties, on an authority structure well-suited in managing interdependence but also ultimately driven by a “polity maintenance” logic and, finally, on a moral order capable of legitimating authoritative decisions. There can be no doubt that the EU meets the first requirement. Crisis dynamics have however pushed the EU’s authority structure close to the breaking point. In the course of the sovereign debt crisis, it took the belated initiative of the ECB (a non-majoritarian institution with only delegated powers) to avert collapse by taking a “whatever it takes” stance. There are thus good reasons to question the Union’s basic political capacity. The final requirement - the presence of an adequate moral order - is, we argue, the weakest front. The EU lacks a recognizable and shared value-scheme able to effectively sustain the legitimacy claim of the EU qua political authority. It is this missing element that undermines the EU’s foundations, as it deprives it of a stable and “diffuse” support regardless of contingent performance and the specific interests of its constituent parts.
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