Looking at the headlines these days, the current situation of the European Union seems dark. The migrant crisis continues to reveal different policy approaches among the Member States, the newly erected system for redistributing migrants is completely dysfunctional and talks regarding a breakup of the Schengen-Area looms ahead, with countries reintroducing border-controls.
But doesn’t the notion of crisis and the failure to address challenges effectively and timely sound quite familiar? In fact, in the heydays of the global financial crisis that lead to a European banking, and finally a sovereign-debt, crisis are only a few years ago, did the Monetary Union fall apart as some had predicted? So far, despite some of the worst hit countries still facing economic difficulties, the Eurozone is still with us.
Further, the Grand project of creating a European Banking Union with centralized bank surveillance and a bank resolution mechanism has taken off. Since the beginning of this year, common rules for how a bank is to be wound up in case it goes bankrupt apply, and a fund that can be accessed in possible future bank resolutions has been established. From 2024, banks will have to contribute to the fund based on the risk profiles of their assets, following the logic that the costs of bank resolutions should be borne by private investors, rather than taxpayer money.
What does this suggest for the stance of the Union as well as the overall picture citizens might have of it? Certainly, the logic of media coverage doesn’t favour the Unions lengthy negotiations and complex decision-making procedures, not to mention the tedious implementation of norms and provisions. The logic of media attention is a great problem for the image of the EU. The EU is often good at handling highly technical problems in fields where the general aim, i.e. financial stability, is rather undisputed. These issues, however, are often not those at the top of the news feed of mainstream media or graze the front covers of their print outlets.
Whether the Union will achieve similar results with regards to the management of asylum and migration policies currently seems unlikely. Looking at past experiences however, chances that the EU will cease to exist are pretty low. Usually, Europe emerges stronger from crises that challenge it´s institutional architecture, be it through deepening integration or just by mastering the art of “muddling through”.