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January 11 , 2011

The European Union beyond the Crisis

Evolving Governance, Contested Policies, and Disenchanted Publics


This volume explores institutional and policy developments in the EU and its member states in a parallel examination of citizens’ views of the effectiveness of crisis response reflected in public trust, output legitimacy, and satisfaction with democracy. Our approach to understanding the crisis posits EU-level governance and institutional change, national-level policymaking, and domestic politics as interrelated, interdependent domains of political action and public spheres that collectively shape the political landscape of post-crisis Europe. The volume sheds new light on the relationship among the institutional, policy, and polity consequences of the crisis.

The book has two fundamental aims. The first is to demonstrate the interconnected nature of European governance, domestic reform, and democratic politics. The unprecedented complexity of the financial, sovereign debt, economic, and social crises in Europe has led to a political crisis that reflects the struggle to effectively address its various causes and effects.

The second objective is to present a theoretically informed assessment of the consequences of the European crises for state-society relations and democratic legitimacy. Our analysis of the crisis in a variety of national contexts and European governance highlights the difficulties faced by political decision-makers. We find that the domestic policy process is selectively affected or disconnected from the process of rule-making at the EU level, that public opinion still matters in the process of policy formation and EU crisis response, and that the salience of the EU agenda in the domestic public sphere increasingly depends on the preferences of political actors. Public response to the crisis has become increasingly complex as well, ranging from declining trust in the political institutions, emerging national stereotypes, changing expectations of the EU level of crisis response, growing disconnect between political parties and voters, and evolving intra-regional distinctions across the EU’s east-west divide.
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