Not since its origins in the 1950s has the European Union (EU) faced such a dangerous concert of destabilizing events. In the wake of the Eurozone crisis (now quiescent but only partly resolved), in the middle of the migrant crisis (straining the EU’s consensus), and in the run up to the referendum on Britain in the EU (with implications for the cohesion and global influence of both the UK and the rest of the EU), the summer of 2016 could prove to be a crucial turning point for Europe’s destiny.
This conference aims to analyse Europe’s developing existential crisis from the perspective of four countries: Germany, Greece, Poland and the United Kingdom. The first is a founding member of the EU, the rest are later arrivals in successive decades, and all of them had different reasons for joining. Two are members of the Eurozone, two are not. One is (for the moment) the undisputed hegemonic power in the EU, another finds itself returned to its historic role of semi-vassal state, while the other two operate in less obedient orbits around the centre. Few seem entirely happy in this constellation.
The seminar (see overleaf) is structured around three key themes:
(i) What were the original ambitions of these four countries in joining the EU, to what extent have these been met, and what are their current concerns?
(ii) What are we to make of the economic and financial architecture of the EU—is it doomed or will it work—and how does all this fit into the evolving globalized economy?
(iii) In what way and how strongly do these four countries feel “European”, is there a common European identity which they can all recognize, and how does this square with nationalist identities? Is this European identity strong enough to meld the EU into “ever closer union” or not?
Conference participants include historians, economists, and political scientists, from each of the four countries considered, in order to gain a genuinely European view. Participants have also been drawn from Oxford University’s own distinguished pool of experts, and from elsewhere in the UK.
The Conference has been convened by Professors John Darwin, David Vines and Jan Zielonka of Oxford University, and organized by Adam Bennett and Stuart Sweeney under the combined umbrellas of the Political Economy of Financial Markets (PEFM) program at the European Studies Centre, St Antony’s College, and the Oxford Centre for Global History. The conference is being supported by Citi, which has contributed to its funding. This conference at St Antony’s College forms part of a series of events in celebration of the Fortieth Anniversary of the European Studies Centre, and follows a connected event hosted by the Oxford Martin School on April 27th.