Issue 2/2020 of integration

Nicolai von Ondarza analyzes the approach of the European Union (EU) in the Brexit negoti­a­tions and explains the respectable success mainly with the unusual unity of the EU-27 and the struc­turing of the talks under the leadership of Michel Barnier. Friedrich Heinemann explains why the euro countries are strug­gling to reform the monetary union towards a fiscal union and why the COVID-19 pandemic is putting further pressure on decision-makers. The article by Sonja Priebus and Lisa H. Anders is dealing with the rule of law-related infringement proce­dures against Hungary and shows the mixed success of this approach. Along with Poland, Hungary is also at the centre of Manuel Müller’s forum article, which sheds light on how the countries’ govern­ments seized the oppor­tunity to cement their power during the COVID-19 pandemic while the EU and its member states struggle to give a coherent response to democ­ratic backsliding. Michael Kaeding, Johannes Pollak and Paul Schmidt take a Europe-wide and yet individual look at the phenomenon of Euroscep­ticism and describe the peculiar­ities as well as the patterns they found. Gabriele Abels examines the new EU Gender Equality Strategy and discusses the extent to which the Commission under the leadership of Ursula von der Leyen is living up to its claim of a “Union of Equality”. Michèle Knodt reports on the inter­na­tional workshop of the Jean Monnet Network on EU-Canada Relations on “New Oppor­tu­nities for the EU-Canada Strategic Partnership”.

The “Barnier Method” – Lessons Learned from the EU‘s Institutional Approach to the Brexit Negotiations

Nicolai von Ondarza

The Brexit negoti­a­tions consti­tuted unchar­tered political and insti­tu­tional territory for the European Union (EU). This analysis shows how a new insti­tu­tional approach enabled the EU-27 to present an unusually united front. The “Barnier method” is charac­terised by five elements: a strong political mandate from the European Council, a single EU negotiator based in the European Commission in the person of Michel Barnier, very close coordi­nation with the Member States and the European Parliament, and a high degree of trans­parency. Lessons can also be drawn from this for the next phase of the Brexit negoti­a­tions and the EU’s relations with other third countries.

The Monetary Union Needs a Fiscal Union – but What Kind? An Analysis of the Euro Area Reform Blockade

Friedrich Heinemann

Although the euro area looks back at a phase of compre­hensive reforms, its fiscal insti­tu­tions still lack a consistent shape. The article analyses how the compe­tition between two distinct models of a European Fiscal Union (EFU) has created the current reform deadlock. This is the struggle between a centralized EFU with its broad arsenal of new European fiscal instru­ments that stress the idea of mutual insurance on the one hand, and a decen­tralised EFU that puts the emphasis on market disci­pline through sovereign insol­vency proce­dures and national fiscal self-respon­si­bility on the other hand. The article identifies the main camps on both sides of the contro­versy: The European Commission together with the European Central Bank and high-debt Member States favour a centralised EFU; low-debt Member States such as the countries of the Hanseatic League and Germany push towards a decen­tralised EFU. This conflict explains why currently substantial Commission euro area reform initia­tives are either watered down or completely fail in the Eurogroup. Reform packages that combine key elements of both models could solve the dilemma. However, Member States increas­ingly lack the mutual trust that is indis­pensable to achieve such a grand bargain. The new severe economic and fiscal crisis that is caused by the COVID-19 pandemic might now speed up the decisions on the final outline of the EFU.


Legal Solutions for Political Conflicts? Rule of Law-Related Infringement Procedures against Hungary

Sonja Priebus and Lisa H. Anders

Recently, there has been a renewed interest in infringement proce­dures as a tool against disman­tling the rule of law and democracy in Member States of the European Union (EU). Against this background, this article analyses all seven rule of law-related infringement proce­dures against Hungary since 2010. It examines how the European Commission justified the opening of the proce­dures and how the Hungarian government reacted legally and in its public commu­ni­ca­tions. While it has been suggested that infringement proce­dures would lead to a miscat­e­gori­sation of rule of law problems, this contri­bution shows that in the majority of cases, the Commission made clear refer­ences to democracy and the rule of law. Never­theless, the proce­dures could not dissuade the Hungarian government from its contro­versial reforms, nor were they able to depoliticise the conflicts over EU founda­tional values.

Euroscepticism and the Future of Europe. Views from the Capitals

Michael Kaeding, Johannes Pollak and Paul Schmidt

Based on a new anthology on the future of Europe in the light of Euroscep­ticism, this article examines how the increasing promi­nence of Eurosceptic and nation­alist parties is affecting the thinking of mainstream parties, their repre­sen­ta­tives in the European Parliament and the future of European integration. The publi­cation of the anthology is timed to coincide with the strategic vision of the European Council, the Council, the Commission and the Parliament as well as with the next phase of the negoti­a­tions on the future relations between the European Union (EU) and the United Kingdom and the Conference on the Future of Europe. It maps and analyses 39 national perspec­tives from all EU Member States as well as from neigh­bouring European countries and potential candidate countries.

“The Beginning of a New Chapter”? An Assessment of the New EU “Gender Equality Strategy 2020–2025”

Gabriele Abels

Gender equality is an essential component of the ambitious agenda of the new President of the European Commission. After years of stagnation, this policy field shall see a revival; the vision is a “Union of Equality”. As part of the working programme for the first 100 days in office, the Commission published its “Gender Equality Strategy 2020–2025” in March 2020. This contri­bution eluci­dates the signif­i­cance of gender equality for the Commission and relates these new ambitions to the general devel­opment of the policy field. The Gender Equality Strategy and its six main goals are then intro­duced and the likelihood of actual imple­men­tation is discussed against the background of increasing fragmen­tation and polar­i­sation in the Council and in the European Parliament. The German Council Presi­dency will play an important role for its reali­sation.

Dismantling Democracy in Times of Pandemic: on the EU’s Response to the Cases of Hungary and Poland

Manuel Müller

The COVID-19 pandemic is not only putting European financial solidarity to the test, but also the common values of the European Union (EU). In Hungary and Poland, the govern­ments are using the situation to undermine democ­ratic principles and expand their own position of power. The EU – once again – is strug­gling to give an adequate answer. While the European Parliament has clear words, but little options for action, most national govern­ments show a reserved attitude. Similarly, the European Commission has expressed concern, but does not want to take any immediate counter­mea­sures.


Michèle Knodt
Dialog unter Freunden – zu den EU-Kanada-Beziehungen
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