European Integration and the Atlantic Community in the 1980s
Cambridge University Press
285 - 290
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In the time since our 2010 workshop, the European Union has generated a good deal of drama. A serious debt crisis in Greece was repeated in Ireland, Spain, Italy, and Portugal. It threatened to undermine the basic fabric of not only the Eurozone but also of the entire European project, according to some pessimists. Commitment to the implementation of drastic, but much-needed fiscal reforms stood against the idea of European solidarity and a radical, Europe-wide growth plan. The many reform steps that the member states agreed on brought partial remedy but most were concluded under considerable time pressure, in which global markets instead of parliamentary procedures dictated the speed and direction. What they did bring was greater power of oversight for Brussels, yet at the time of this writing, it is still unclear how and if the sovereign debt crisis will be resolved on a more permanent basis. Much of the commentary about the crisis, which in fact came to seem less like a crisis than a saga over the course of 2011 and 2012, placed the blame for it on two sources, primarily: the after effect of the 2008 global financial collapse and the structural flaws of the Maastricht Treaty. The latter case relates directly to the various themes and problems raised in the preceding chapters. To recapitulate the standard, although oversimplified and perhaps overdrawn calculus of German reunification: it was meant to take place within a stronger European institutional structure, which the Treaty of Maastricht and the various NATO-related promises – described in detail in Frédéric Bozo’s chapter – were supposed to bring about. Specifically, it also meant the adoption of a new currency – the Euro – that, largely on French insistence, Germany had to support and, largely on Jacques Delors’s insistence, Europe had to embrace as the means to counter Margaret Thatcher’s push for a liberalized internal market. Both went against the instincts of many people, particularly in West Germany where a strong Deutschmark and various forms of protection were sacrosanct, but Helmut Kohl agreed to the compromise. © Cambridge University Press 2013.