Why start a new journal? The European Union at risk of collapsing

Within the international publishing scenario, there is no shortage of journals on Europe. So why start a new one?

First of all, I expressed my intention to publish a journal on Europe as one of the initiatives foreseen in application of the Jean Monnet Chair at the University of Turin; and thanks to this financing the journal is now being published. The main purpose of a new journal on Europe is to address the current state of European integration. A cultural effort is required in this problematic, unclear scenario so we can redefine and revitalise the underlying reasons for unification.

Europe has been experiencing a crisis for a long time now, a crisis that not only concerns the economy and migration, but that is mainly existential, affecting the very nature of the European Union (EU), its ubi consistam, its aims.

This crisis has been manifesting itself blatantly through the spread of Eurosceptic and nationalist movements, which in some cases even call for exiting the single currency, if not the EU itself. In its nearly seventy-year history, the EU has got far stronger, although without ever reaching the point of no return. However, more than ever before, it has had to face such incredible difficulties and challenges that have put its very existence and the results achieved by integration (in particular peace, democracy and well-being) at risk. The intense flow of immigrants has challenged the principle of the free movement of people within the EU, one of the four freedoms of movement guaranteed under the Treaties, and has generated serious political and social tension. The former German Minister of Finance’s request that Greece be excluded from the euro, and the desire of several Eurosceptic leaders to have their own countries leave the single currency have compromised the principle of the indissolubility of monetary union, already threatened by growing economic, social and territorial imbalances. Brexit undermined the idea of the irreversibility of EU membership. International events have confirmed, if ever proof were needed, the weakness of EU foreign policy, its little weight in the world and its vulnerability in the face of threats to global security. Terrorism has fuelled people’s fear of the other, of difference, and fostered a closed, nationalistic and xenophobic attitude towards the outside world.

This has led to a serious weakening of the European Union, the loss of its appeal and a change in the public’s attitude towards integration. There has been a shift away from rather broad consensus, albeit general, poorly informed and motivated (the so-called “permissive consensus” typical of the first decades of integration, an overall widespread yet passive Europeanism), to a form of disaffection that sometimes morphs into the rejection of integration. The resurgence of nationalism and aspirations to restore full national sovereignty that are being advocated by populist rhetoric provide a glimpse of the dream of the return to a mythical golden age of self-sufficient nation-states. The latter are supposedly able to meet citizens’ needs and continue guaranteeing an extensive social security system, which in recent years, according to populist propaganda, has been scaled down by austerity policies imposed by a technocratic caste rooted in the EU. This attitude results in demands to reduce the EU’s powers, re-nationalise some of its policies and regain the sovereignty surrendered to Europe.

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