JSIS Rome – European Integration
Recently, many state officials, different socio-political-economic groups, along with some academic experts, have not only criticized the idea of European integration, but would like to see the breakup of the EU altogether. This course combines an opportunity for students to examine many of the successes and failures of EU integration in the classroom, but also by visiting various sites in and around the famous “eternal city” of Rome, Italy.
Whereas European integration was once viewed as an automatic given, recently it has come under attack by some state officials, different groups across the socio-political-economic spectrum, and some academic experts who feel strongly that a higher level of European integration is neither achievable nor desirable. Many critics, especially in Germany, France, Great Britain, Greece, Spain, and Italy, for example, would like to see the breakup of the EU altogether. This course on “European Integration: Successes and Failures, and the Financial Crisis” combines an opportunity for students to study this critically important and controversial topic in a classroom at the UW Rome Center (UWRC) but also in various sites in and around Rome, Italy.
After World War II many European officials and academics in Western Europe supported the idea that states who often had been at war with one another should both cooperate and integrate some of their political, economic, and social institutions to achieve common political, economic, and social objectives. The Rome Treaty of 1957 authorized the creation of what is today a variety of European institutions and agencies. Rome is also the headquarters of the United Nation’s Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) and many nongovernmental organizations. Since the early 1950s many European institutions and processes have developed in fits and starts. In many cases they helped to either solve if not manage a variety of common problems such as in the areas of trade, support for food and agriculture, environmental policies, and opening borders so that people and goods could move more freely between states.
After the end of the Cold War in 1991 Europeanization (Europe’s style of integration) got a shot in the arm from the adoption of many neoliberal political-economic policies by the United States, Europe, and other pro capitalist states who actively promoted integration and globalization-both at the regional and global levels. For many, this development helped support and reinforce the idea for most public officials, national elites, academics and much of the public that Europeanization was not only successful but that it complemented democracy and peaceful relations between nations. In 1999 these developments led to the creation of a Common Monetary System (CMS) such that in 2002 the euro replaced the currencies of some fourteen states who together formed the Eurozone. For those who supported integration, there was no going back on the goal of realizing an even more unified form of political union—or what came to be called the European Union.
Today, however, there are ominous signs that one of history’s unique experiments in promoting integration along with democracy and capitalism in the EU, may have crested. For example, the EU financial crisis that started in 2009 drags on. The term Greek Crisis has come to signify the conundrum facing many of the highly indebted states who face austerity policies imposed on them from the IMF, European Central Bank, and European Commission, who have called for higher taxes and huge cuts in social programs in exchange for the financial assistance these states need to maintain their economic solvency. This issue alone has generated much criticism of not only austerity policies, but recommendations that Greece and other states leave the Eurozone, if not the EU altogether.
Couple that with recent record number of migrants who since last summer have entered Eastern Europe via Turkey and Greece as they flee from the conflict and violence in the Middle-East. Many critics in states including Poland, Hungary, but also Great Britain, France, and Germany have either closed their borders (in violation of Schengen policy—to keep open borders) to any more migrants entering their nation, or threatened to do so in the near future.
Led by Professors David Balaam (UW Jackson School), James Caporaso (UW Political Science), and Christine Ingebritsen (UW Scandinavian Studies).