The Covid-19 pandemic arguably led to one of the most important steps in EU integration since the Treaty of Maastricht: With the reconstruction fund NextGenerationEU, the EU for the first time in its history has taken on joint debt. What is conceived as a temporary exception could pave the way to a fiscal union in the long run.
The negotiations on and adoption of NextGenerationEU shed light on the functioning of the EU: member states struggle over the exact design, EU institutions want to strengthen their positions and influential politicians manage to reach compromises in night-long negotiations. The Yearbook describes these sometimes dramatic processes in detail and sheds light on their backgrounds.
But the pandemic was not the only dominant topic on the European stage from mid-2020 to mid-2021. The German Council Presidency, the conference on the future of Europe as well as environmental and climate policy shaped the debates at least as much. In terms of foreign policy, the articles in particular look at relations with the USA and China as well as the conclusion of the Brexit process, which has lasted almost five years and continues to be fraught with conflict.
The Yearbook of European Integration 2021 thus not only brings together the events of the recent past, but also continues the yearbook chronology stretching back to 1980. As a chronicle of the Union, the yearbooks enable long-term comparisons and classifications, as well as a critical examination of the EU over long historical periods.