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2019 | Book

Trust in the European Union in Challenging Times

Interdisciplinary European Studies

Editors: Antonina Bakardjieva Engelbrekt, Niklas Bremberg, Dr. Anna Michalski, Lars Oxelheim

Publisher: Springer International Publishing


About this book

This is the first book in the Interdisciplinary European Studies collection. This volume provides an interdisciplinary perspective on trust in the EU from the vantage point of political science, law and economics. It applies insights from a number of different dimensions – political institutions, legal convergence in criminal and civil law, social trust, digitalization, the diffusion of political values and norms, monetary convergence and the legitimacy of political systems – to approach the highly complex issue of trust in the EU in a clear-sighted, relevant and insightful manner. Written by renowned experts in the field, the style is accessible and reader-friendly, yet concise, knowledgeable and thought-provoking. The individual chapters combine up-to-date research findings with reflections on on-going political debates and offer useful, concrete ideas on what steps the EU could take to address the challenge of trust. The book provides the reader with invaluable insights into how trust, or rather the lack of trust, poses a challenge to the future of the social, economic and political developments in the EU. It is a must-read for policy-makers, students and interested members of the public who feel concerned by the future of Europe.

Table of Contents

Trust in the European Union: What Is It and How Does It Matter?
Bakardijeva Engelbrekt, Bremberg, Michalski, and Oxelheim introduce the concept of trust in the European Union by pointing out its elusive character comprising both interpersonal relations and attitudes towards organizations and broad-based institutions in society. In the early days of integration, trust was primarily connected to the European security community. Then, trust was present mainly among political, economic, and bureaucratic elites while public confidence in European integration took a vaguer form. Today, trust in the EU is challenged by numerous developments, ranging from the deteriorating internal and external security situation and terrorism to rising populism and anti-establishment sentiments. Also, rapid change in the digitalization of society and changing conditions for socio-economic development play a decisive role in the evolution of trust in Europe.
Antonina Bakardjieva Engelbrekt, Niklas Bremberg, Anna Michalski, Lars Oxelheim
What Explains the Lack of Trust in the EU Among Its Member States? A Constitutional Analysis of the EU’s ‘Value Crisis’
Nergelius considers various crises and challenges facing the European Union: the migration crisis, Britain’s imminent withdrawal from the EU, the risk of state bankruptcy in Greece and sanctions against Russia. The author argues that these crises are eminently constitutional as well as political. They draw attention to the ongoing conflict of values, exacerbated by the actions of the Hungarian and Polish governments, between a liberal model of society and various conservative, authoritarian and nationalist ideals that were long thought to be obsolete. To deal with this crisis, the more liberal states of the EU should make use of the mechanisms set out in the treaties to force recalcitrant states to adopt more liberal policies on refugees, as well as on political rights, freedoms and tolerance.
Joakim Nergelius
Perspective on the Eastern Enlargement: Triumph of the EU or Seed of Its Destruction?
Petersson looks back at the great Eastern enlargement of the European Union in 2004. At the time, it was seen as a huge gain for Western liberalism and democracy, even if certain problems were anticipated, primarily in connection with labour markets and social safety nets. Since then, enlargement has led to tensions within the Union of a kind that few had predicted. A serious challenge is mounted to the interpretation of the Copenhagen criteria regarding democracy, human rights and the rule of law. This is badly undermining trust and confidence in the Union. In Petersson’s view, the EU needs a unifying vision, even a common identity, to address this challenge and give the member states and their populations the motivation to keep moving forward together.
Bo Petersson
Citizens’ Trust in the EU as a Political System
Berg examines the level of trust between citizens and the political system of the European Union. The results point in two different directions: On the one hand, there is a relative stability over time in people’s general attitude towards the Union and the desirability of their country’s membership. On the other hand, trust in the European institutions has fallen sharply in the last decade. While a majority of European citizens remains well disposed to the Union, the confidence in the European institutions varies significantly between countries. Although feelings of affiliation with Europe remain important for trust in the EU, such sentiments cannot offset feelings of dissatisfaction any longer. In light of this, Berg urges member states to devote resources to deepen the public knowledge of the EU.
Linda Berg
Is Migration Threatening Social Trust in Europe?
Bergh considers the relationship between migration and interpersonal trust in the European Union. Interpersonal trust, Bergh avers, is an important foundation for a well-functioning society. The question is how interpersonal trust is affected by increased migration in countries with differing levels of trust. Bergh shows that migrants from low-trust countries who move to high-trust ones show higher trust than those who remain in the former lands. Their trust is lower, however, than that of persons who have always lived in countries with higher trust. Factors such as corruption and weakness in the rule of law cause damage to interpersonal trust, which is very difficult to repair. Bergh contends that the Union must act to strengthen the rule of law and combat economic and social inequality.
Andreas Bergh
Trust in the Euro and the EU’s Banking Union After the Financial Crisis
Wihlborg and Khoury examine whether greater institutional flexibility can strengthen confidence in the euro and the European banking union. The authors highlight the costs and benefits of harmonization as compared with those arising from competition among national regulatory frameworks. Greater trust requires either that some EU member states abandon the euro as their currency, or that they effect far-reaching structural reforms. Politically, it is advantageous to divide the euro zone into two different currency areas. Regarding the EU’s banking union, Wihlborg and Khoury contend that market discipline with regard to banks’ risk-taking improves national regulatory frameworks through institutional competition. Mutual recognition between national supervisory authorities requires harmonization of rules for dealing with troubled banks, as well as for banking regulation and supervision.
Clas Wihlborg, Sarkis J. Khoury
The Question of Trust in EU Criminal Law Cooperation: A Constitutional Perspective
This contribution discusses the importance of trust for cooperation in criminal justice in the European Union. As a result of Schengen and the open borders within Europe, the freedom of movement comes sometimes in conflict with the fight against crime and terrorism. Political considerations often favour mutual recognition and criminal-justice cooperation over legislative harmonisation of national laws and regulations. Increasing trust between the EU member states in criminal law is difficult because criminal justice systems have remained nationally anchored. Herlin-Karnell recommends that the EU give greater weight to the proportionality principle in criminal justice cases. The EU Charter of Fundamental Rights and the European Convention on Human Rights represent the minimum requirements for EU legislation and greater attention to those documents increase trust in the system.
Ester Herlin-Karnell
Mutual Trust in Civil Justice Cooperation in the EU
Storskrubb analyses trust between national legal systems in the context of the European Union’s policy for judicial cooperation in civil matters. The overarching and challenging question that arises is whether protection of individual rights can be sacrificed for a presumption of trust. The answer, according to the author, has implications for the broader legitimacy of the Union. Given the time it takes for legal cultures to establish confidence among institutions and actors, trust in the EU will corrode if confidence in mutual recognition is simply presumed to exist. In Storskrubb’s view, member states are not yet ready for a full harmonisation of legal procedures. Nevertheless, mutual trust would benefit from a dialogue on best practices to achieve effective legal systems.
Eva Storskrubb
The Importance of Trust in a Digital Europe: Reflections on the Sharing Economy and Blockchains
For Teigland, Holmberg and Felländer, the sharing economy offers people new opportunities for value creation in the European Union. With the help of digital platforms, participants in the sharing economy may cut out traditional intermediaries resulting in a cheaper exchange of goods and services. However, a vacuum of responsibility arises in the wake of digitalization, eroding provisions of labor and consumer law. Creating trust in the digital environment is a huge challenge for the sharing economy. The Union can engage more intensively in the digitalization of European societies by promoting economic growth and enhancing the capacity for innovation. The authors consider it essential to develop a ‘digital presence’ to prevent the European perspective on democracy and freedom of expression losing out to global actors.
Robin Teigland, Håkan Holmberg, Anna Felländer
Trust and Crises in the EU: Exit, Voice and Loyalty
von Sydow depicts a European Union in crisis wherein trust among the member states, and between them and the Union, is under heavy strain. Devoid of full-scale democracy, the EU acquires legitimacy from the member states’ loyalty to the joint project. In the euro crisis, Brexit and the conflict between EU member states over migration such loyalty falls short. As European integration moves towards politically sensitive areas, new legitimacy demands are placed upon the Union. As a result, national resistance is growing in many parts of Europe and the rise of Eurosceptic parties undermines trust in the system. The author concludes that the faltering trust in the Union requires either a move towards a federal system or a return to an intergovernmental form of legitimation.
Göran von Sydow
Trust in the European Union in Challenging Times
Antonina Bakardjieva Engelbrekt
Niklas Bremberg
Dr. Anna Michalski
Lars Oxelheim
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