Professor Loukas Tsoukalis, Professor of European Integration at the University of Athens, gives the 2014 Cyril Foster Lecture.
Professor Loukas Tsoukalis, is also the President of the Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy (ELIAMEP), and Visiting Professor at King’s College, London and the College of Europe, Bruges. The transformation of Western Europe during the second half of the twentieth century was a remarkable success story, and regional integration was part and parcel of it. After the collapse of the Soviet empire, Pax Europaea gradually spread to the eastern part of the continent. The European project became much bigger, more intrusive and less inclusive, while external competition intensified in a rapidly globalising world. And then, a big international financial crisis transformed itself into an existential crisis of the European currency union. Was the euro a terrible mistake? And what lessons can be drawn from the way Europe has so far (mis)managed the crisis? Centrifugal forces have been growing between and within countries. Trust is low. Economic factors often push for more integration, but politics resists. Meanwhile, Europe’s ‘soft power’ is too weak to deal with an increasingly unstable neighbourhood, not to mention global challenges. Or, does collective weakness have more to do with internal divisions? More differentiation and flexibility will be necessary to deal with heterogeneity and growing divergence within the EU, although this may not stop the UK from exiting. Has European integration reached the end of the road, and if so, what would be the implications for peace and prosperity in Europe and beyond? And what are the pre-conditions for a new European grand bargain?