Berkeley Talks transcript: The EU in crisis

Listen to Berkeley Talks episode #132: ‘The EU in crisis.’

[Music: “Silver Lanyard” by Blue Dot Sessions]

Intro: This is Berkeley Talks, a Berkeley News podcast from the Office of Communications and Public Affairs that features lectures and conversations at UC Berkeley. You can subscribe on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Acast or wherever you listen. New episodes come out every other Friday.

[Music fades]

Christopher Ansell: Welcome everyone. My name is Chris Ansell and I’m a professor of political science at the University of California, Berkeley. And I have the honor to be the moderator for today’s event, the EU in Crisis. We are fortunate today to have three panelists who have been individually and collectively thinking a lot about this topic.

Akasemi Newsome is the associate director of Berkeley’s Institute of European Studies and also the executive director of the Peder Sather Center for Advanced Study, which has the mission of bringing together Norwegian and Berkeley researchers. She herself is a scholar of labor, immigration and race in Europe. And I’m proud to say that she has her Ph.D. in political science from my own department.

Marianne Riddervold is a professor of political science at the Inland Norway University of Applied Sciences. She is also a senior fellow at Berkeley’s Institute of European Studies and is affiliated as well with arena, the University of Oslo Center for European Studies. Her research focuses EU foreign and defense policy.

And Jarle Trondal is professor of public administration at the University of Agder in Norway and is also affiliated with the University’s Arena Center. He is a scholar of European public administration and particularly its multi-level dimension. That is how it stretches across both national and European administrative levels. Thanks. All three of you.

Thanks to all of you for being here with us today. And I guess it’s getting a little late in Norway, I found out that Marianne is actually in Berkeley coming from Norway, but Jarle is joining us mid-evening in Norway and so special, thanks to Jarle for doing that. Among their many accomplishments, what’s great about Akasemi, Marianne and Jarle is that they have teamed up to bring together their very different skills and perspectives to edit a major new handbook on EU crisis, which was published by Palgrave in 2021.

European Union has recently faced a lot of crises and this book is meant to provide a comprehensive resource for understanding how the EU is handling these crises and how crises are in turn affecting the process of European integration. If you take a look at the book, which I urge you to do, you will immediately appreciate that understanding the relationship between the EU and crisis means bringing together a lot of different ideas and people and perspectives together in addition to their own.

This was truly a massive project, nearly 800 pages in length. And that means that the editors of this important project have a lot to tell us in a short period of time. So without further ado, I want to turn the floor over to them. They’re going to talk for about 10 minutes each starting with Jarle, and then we’re going to open up the discussion to the audience. I find it easiest to use the chat function on Zoom to signal that you’d like to ask a question. But please, if you will hold those questions until the panelists have had a chance to make their opening remarks and then I’ll let you know that we’re open for questions. So thanks to the panelists. Thanks to the audience and let me turn this over now to Jarle.

Jarle Trondal: Thank you, Chris. And thank you for hosting us and for sharing some insights on this book. I don’t have a slide. I think there will come slides just right after me, but let me go run through some of the key ambitions of the book. So one way of talking about this book is by referencing back to Alan Milward describing European integration as the riskier of the nation state. When Facebook collective challenges nation state responded through cooperation and the surrendering of sovereignty. Since then, the EU has evolved by seeking common solutions to shared problems.

The result is a UN build on compromises between the twin, the size of supernational integration and intergovernmental corporation. And the current corona pandemic is the latest addition to a long list of crisis, which is included in this volume. We focus on Eurozone financial crisis, the immigration crisis, the Brexit crisis, as well as the crisis of anti-European populism and anti-democratic trends.

And also Europe is facing a more aggressive Russia and states that is questioning multilateral agreements and corporation. So that Palgrave Handbook of EU Crises asks how the EU cope with crisis. And based on chapters from a broad collegium of scholars, including a very nice chapter by you Chris, it shows that the EU has been surprisingly able to cope with crisis of different kinds through adaptations, through reforms and through further integration.

To us, this suggests that the EU has perhaps reached a level of integration or maturation where it is sufficiently consolidated to deal with profound challenges. So crisis doesn’t easily run down the union. We argue that crisis no longer pose existential threats to the EU as a political order. In order to organize this volume, we developed three very broad conceptual types to categorize what we observe, but indeed not to explain what we observe regarding crisis responses.

The first scenario is perhaps the obvious, first is the scenario of breaking down, suggesting that crisis are likely to test the preferences of states to come together and gradually bring integration down. This might include the breaking down of institutions at the EU level, the breaking down of policy domain at the EU level and the will to corporate and so on. Heading forward is the opposite scenario to this one, suggesting that crisis may be seen as windows of opportunity leading to more integration rather than less.

And this if happened would lead to the creation of new institutions at the EU level. The strengthening of existing ones, pooling of authority to new policy domain at the EU level and so on. Modeling through, we use as a compromise and pragmatic alternative in between these extremes suggesting that the EU might be likely to make it through crisis by building on already preexisting resources and solutions. And if observed this might come as a case of reforming institutions, modifying policies, creating network solutions and so on.

So what we find in the book by going through a lot of chapters on most EU institutions, there’s one section on the effects on institutions and one big section on effects on policy fields, we find most evidence for the second and third scenario, but indeed also some indications, however much fewer of breaking down. So the book suggests that crisis tend to mainly move integration forward, but often less in an innovative way than the second scenario would lead us to expect. So past dependencies, lock in effects are prevalent in which crisis responses build on already preexisting solutions.

We also observe that crisis are drivers of new institutions and policies. Sometimes crisis tend to fuel support for common EU policy responses, even in reluctant member states. Examples are many. We will come back to some of them just in a minute, but just to mention that the financial crisis, it led to a series of new toolkits, the EU institutions such as the European Semester. And during the Brexit negotiations, the EU also managed to act mostly as a united order, but we also just see that despite of a political break between the UK and the Union, which is in a sense a breaking down observation, we at the same time observe continuity of administrative networks that tend to prevail between UK administrative institutions and European ones.

So for example, that UK agencies have more or less the same role in administrative networks in the EU as before Brexit. But Marianne will run through some cases of crisis responses in some greater detail. But in order to run a wrap up handbook, which is impossible in any detail, we… Yeah, sorry. Crisis tend to lead to more integration we could argue not less. So based on expectations of previous crisis as described in the book and analyzed in the book, it is definitely not surprising to find that contrary to popular impressions the corona pandemic is producing more integration in a path to pan manner. While this is not a book on the pandemic we still have one chapter that discusses responses to that as well.

So while member states reacted unilaterally at the beginning of the pandemic they quickly developed a consensus that closed the corporation within EU is needed. So I think I leave it at that for now and I guess, I leave the floor to Marianne.

Marianne Riddervold: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Okay. Thank you, Jarle and I am going to try to share some slides. Let’s see. I hope that’s working. So good afternoon everyone. Thanks a lot to the Institute of European Studies for organizing this event and to Chris, not only for hosting it but also for contributing a really fantastic chapter on institutionalism and crisis in our handbook. So I think that everyone who’s interested in social sciences theory or EU integration theory should definitely at least read his chapter in the book.

So just to move on from Jarle, what I will do now is that I will discuss some of the cases where the EU headed forward or modeled through some of the cases or some of the crisis it has faced in the recent years. And then, like I said, we will talk about some of the main challenges that the EU is still facing. And as I’m not going to say this again, but just briefly what Jarle already mentioned was that when we started this project, what we wanted to do in a sense was to take a bird’s eye perspective on understanding if, how and why crisis affects the EU integration.

And having done, so we now know a lot about the impact of crisis and we also know much more about the mechanisms by which crisis affect the EU and also our integration and organizations more broadly. And we also know lot more about the relevance of different theories for understanding EU integration and organizational continuity and change. So it’s relevant both for EU integration theories and studies, but also other social sciences. And as Jarle also said, what we find is that crisis tend to drive more integration. That’s a general finding, even if the EU is also facing new challenges.

And I will not go through all the different crisis, but because that would take too long, but I will say something about some of our key findings on areas where we would not expect the EU to head forward in response to crisis. There are crisis in certain areas where we at the outset at least might expect less integration as a result. So what do I mean by that saying that there are some areas that are least likely cases of EU integration?

Well, as you know, and Jarle already mentioned this that EU is a very unique type of international system or international organization. Sorry, I went too far. As the difference to all other inter national organization the EU is unique because it has a supernational independent decision making system where there’s beyond the states internet system adopts law independently of the member states or when the law is superior to EU member states own national regulations.

And the reason for this is as Jarle said and historical constructing sense, it’s the result of a lot of compromises often in response to various crisis and challenges between some member states, wanting the EU to do more in response to common challenges and other states wanting to keep more national sovereignty at least in some areas. So the EU driven a lot by crisis, but you have these different views on what the treaties the EU constitution in a sense should say.

What should the EU do in what sense or how should it do it? How much should it do? How much power should be moved from the member states up to the EU level into this kind of independent policy making legal system? And the result of this is that today almost all policy areas in the EU are integrated, but there are some areas that go to the core of the member states sovereignty where the member states have decided to hold onto the policy decisions themselves. So the member states so far or at least up until now, and things are changing as I will say, member states have said that in the areas that go to the heart of national sovereignty that’s kind of security and defense or citizenship who should be able to gain citizenship in the state.

And health policies these have been the least integrated policy areas in the EU. But what we see is that in looking at the latest EU’s crisis we see that even in these areas, we see development towards more integration as a result of crisis. So as I said, crisis drive more integration even in these policy areas. So Jarle mentioned we see Brexit where the members states have been surprisingly united in keeping and etc. And with migration, there are some developments, et cetera, and [inaudible 00:17:46] come back to me, move back to that.

But even in these kinds of least likely cases, we see that crisis drive integration forward. So let me just then illustrate with two key examples that are also very topical, that are very much discussed in every days newspapers so that it would be for an insecurity policy. The still ongoing Ukraine crisis and the EU’s response to COVID-19. So at the outset health policy is a policy area that is not decided on at EU level. But what we see in the chapter that was written by Scott Greer and his colleagues is that the EU is… It’s failing forward in this area, which means that it takes big steps forward in response to crisis, but maybe not enough so there will be new challenges and the EU will have to take new steps forward to try to deal with the consequence of the corona crisis.

And a lot is going on in the area of health but there are two main developments in response to the COVID-19 crisis in the EU. One is financial and the other one is in the area of health. Of course, the corona crisis created a huge financial crisis in the world and in Europe. And many European states were struggling to deal with the economic consequences. And what is unique with the corona crisis is that it led to a shift in the way that the EU collects money and distributes them.

So, normally since the EU would collect debt in the market collectively, so it would be the member states who are responsible for them. But what happened when the EU developed a huge financial rescue package to help the member state deal with the consequences of the corona crisis is that the member states for the first time agreed that it would be an EU institution, the commission who would go out and lend money from the bank. That’s a huge, huge step in and sometimes being referred as a Hamiltonian moment, kind of referring to the moment when the US Federal government took responsibility for the states that.

That’s an enormous heading forward moment in the level of integration, because now everyone’s responsible for the others’ death instead of just the member states having to take care of their own learnings. Another in the area of health, a huge change that we observe is that health as I mentioned has been one of these areas where the member states have not wanted to integrate or in particular, the Nordic or the Northern states have not wanted to integrate because they fear going to health shopping. So that persons from poor countries will go to the richer countries to get better treatment. But now this objection is more or less gone now.

The health has been redefined as an European issue. So what we expect, even if it’s too early, is that there will be much more integration and less EU economy policies in this domain. Of course, we also have had a common vaccination passport, et cetera. And it’s also important to remember that even in spite of all of these crisis that have been going on and then even under the corona crisis most of what the EU does just went on as normal. So it was business as usual in most of the EU’s daily business. I will finish up soon, but just want to really briefly if you mentioned another of these kinds of least likely cases of integration where for an insecurity policy is the main exemption from the EU supernational system in the EU.

In this area, the EU functions like typical international organizations, the member states have reached the powers, they have decided to keep control of foreign and security policy themselves. But what we see is that also in this domain, the several crisis drive EU security and defense cooperation forward. And in particular, of course, and I’m sure you’re following this in the news, the still ongoing Ukraine crisis, but there are several crisis that are discussed in the book linked to the weakening of EU-U.S. relations that started before Trump. It was exaggerated by Trump, but it’s also continued after Trump with changing U.S. foreign policies away from Europe towards China.

We also see that Europeans were… Trump presidency took Europeans by surprise because Europeans have tended to take the American security guarantee for granted and suddenly Europeans realize that that’s not necessarily the case. So if U.S. foreign policy and EU-U.S. relations might change with a new president again. So that’s one driver of EU foreign and security policy that we discussed in the book.

Another one is actually Brexit because Brexit has been one of the least eager countries to give up powers in the area of security and defense. And I think the Ukraine crisis and Russia aggression even today will probably have, if anything, the opposite effect of what Russia wants. It will make the Europeans more focused on developing a stronger foreign and security policy and much of the discussion in Europe now is how much of this will be in NATO, how much will be in the EU, but the EU has taken big steps. Even if the EU is a machine that moves slowly, we see a lot of new actions, initiatives in the area of security and defense.

So from since 2014, when the Russian annex premier which was a huge shock to the Europeans, of course, and to the world, the first time a European state or any state went into another or annexed a part of another state’s territory and with that situation going on today, these are clear drivers and several of the chapters discussed that. So I think I’ve spent my time. We can come back to this in Q&A and then leave the floor to Akasemi.

Akasemi Newsome: Thank you so much Marianne and Jarle and of course, Chris, for hosting and moderating this discussion. I’m going to share my screen. So for a few minutes, I’ll go into a bit more detail on two of the cases that we examined in the handbook, in which the project of EU integration in the context of crisis, we see more muddling through and even breaking down. And for this, I’ll be looking at the legitimacy crisis or the rule of law crisis in which we have a breakdown of the democratic order in the member states, particularly of Hungary and Poland. And I’ll also be looking at the migration crisis in some detail.

So regarding the rule of law crisis, as many of you I’m sure are familiar just from the news. Democracy has been under threat in Hungary and Poland owing to the success of right wing populous governments who have been open, not only in their rhetoric about undermining the rule of law and attacking judicial independence and attacking freedom of the press and attacking many human rights conventions to which EU members states are a party to, but they have moved forward in action to implement these kinds of policies that are a threat to democracy.

And when it comes to the rule of law and legitimacy crisis, chapters by Raube and Costa Reis, by Holst and Molander and by de Wilde really assess the evidence for the real viability of the EU integration project when it comes to the responses that the EU has had to these situations. So when it comes to the rule of law challenges, when we look at the case specifically of Poland, I have this cartoon as an illustration. This is supposed to be Andrzej Duda, the president of Poland with basically a hammer. Taking a hammer to democracy in the EU order, undermining the EU order from the news website box Europe.

And since the Law and Justice party came to power in Poland in 2015, it’s taken steps to control the justice system and the judiciary, including placing loyalists on a judicial appointments body, forcing the retirement of some supreme court justices, establishing a legal chamber with the authority to discipline judges and prosecutors who take legal position that are opposed by the Law and Justice party. And the Court of Justice of the European Union ruled that this disciplinary chamber was illegal and ordered it closed and this did not take place.

So at the time of publication of the handbook on EU crises, Raube and Costa Reis, in particular, assessed the response of EU institutions, such as the commission and the court of justice, as an example of breaking down, because they had not gotten Law and Justice to reverse are some of the actions taken to undermine rule of law that the EU had identified as problematic. And this is still the situation that the EU currently is in.

Now, this is not to say that the EU has not taken more steps in the developments that have occurred since the publication of our handbook. Already it was quite clear that the EU was willing to and did take the step of invoking Article 7, the Article 7 procedure in which Poland was found to be in violation of the treaties of European Union, in which member states commit to the preservation of the rule of law and the democratic order.

Another point I think that ought to be made when it comes to evidence for breaking down, discussed by the chapters in the book, but also that have come to bear fruit in more recent events concerns the ability of EU action, such as invoking Article 7 and its ability to deter other member states. So, with Fidesz in Hungary, this has not been the case in which actions taken against Poland have not resulted in deterrence for other member states where there are rule of law challenges.

Now, all of us of course, are waiting with some anticipation and bated breath regarding the recent decision of the constitutional court in Poland, which actually ruled in October that Polish law, when it comes in conflict with EU law is Supreme above EU law, which again, basically is going against the key community era that Poland had to commit to in order to become a member state.

And already the EU commission has started to fine Poland a million Euro a day in quite a recent development this month for its unwillingness to follow previous judicial rulings from the European Court of Justice. So this is a developing case when it comes to the challenge of rule of law within EU member states, particularly in Poland. And I think it’s something where several of our chapters were able to provide quite a bit of context for the current day development and situation in Poland when it comes to the difficulties that the EU faces in addressing rule of law challenges within a few of the member states.

Now, so I’ve talked in some detail about this. Let me go now to the migration crisis. So we have a section in the book that looks closely at the 2015, 2016 migration refugee crisis. Many of the people who came to Europe, of course, were fleeing war in Syria. Since the book has been published there of course, has been the return of the Taliban in Afghanistan which triggered another flow of refugees. And most recently there is the crisis at the Poland-Belarus border. And so the photo that I have here is of a standoff.

This photo dates from November 2021 at Kuźnica and I apologize to any polish speakers if I’m probably mispronouncing that. But a standoff as refugees from the middle east who seek to claim asylum within Poland basically are not allowed to cross. And the Polish government is amassing troops at the border at Belarus because they wish to prevent refugees from setting foot on EU territory, on Poland’s territory so that they can exercise their right to asylum.

So in the sections, in the book that address these migration crises, I think that our co-authors, our contributors were readily able to identify the migration crises, what kind of challenge this poses for European integration. And the challenge is really at two levels in that, on the one hand, there are national parties within each member’s state that are divided about migration as a threat to the nation and then national governments. So the governments of the member states disagree with EU officials when it comes to migration and its impact on the European project.

So in 2015 to 2016, you had more people coming to Europe and then you had more people dying, very tragically on the way to Europe. And the EU responded initially with a rescue effort, which we know as operation Mare nostrum. But this was quickly overtaken by a reject effort. One example of which is the EUNAVFOR Sophia, which Marianne has written about in other work and I have addressed as well. But there the language was around preventing human trafficking, but it was clear to the media, to the refugees themselves, to citizens in the EU that the point was to reject and prevent as many people as possible from stepping foot within the EU.

So a real challenge for EU integration in this policy area has been to identify the objective of the EU and the response to these various migration crisis. One policy response that we see EU member states taking part in was of course, the EU-Turkey agreement. This was an exchange in which member states agreed to offer payments to Turkey and eased visa access for Turkish citizens to the EU in exchange for Turkey basically, holding refugees, keeping refugees from entering the EU. And in some accounts, it has been assessed to have been quite successful in preventing large numbers of migrants and refugees from entering Europe.

So to conclude, with our volume we have found quite a bit of evidence for heading forward when it comes to the cases of foreign insecurity policy, when it comes to the response to the financial crisis and even for the public health crisis of COVID. But there are some challenges that the EU faces and migration and the rule of law are two areas where there are still substantial challenges when it comes to the project view integration. So I’ll stop.

Christopher Ansell: Okay, thanks to all three of you. And if people would like to use the chat function to indicate that they have a question, and then I can call on you. I find that works very well. So I already have one question from [Audience 1], [Audience 1] would you like to ask your question?

Louis Tolinski: I’m just wondering how successful the EU is going to be in raining in Hungary and Poland. I mean, are they going to continue to get away with what those governments going to continue to get away with what they’re doing while receiving EU money?

Christopher Ansell: Akasemi, I think maybe do you want to follow up on that?

Akasemi Newsome: Thank you for your question, [Audience 1]. So this is an unfolding event right now when it comes to Poland’s rejection of basically the EU legal order, but the commission in its ability to enforce EU law is basically withdrawing and starting the nonpayment of the common EU budget to Poland. So it is clear that the amount at a million Euro a day that you can find in any news coverage of this will impact Poland’s ability to function. So there is some sense that fines could get Poland to behave differently, but we’ll have to just wait and see.

Audience 1: What about Hungary?

Christopher Ansell: Marianne, did you also want to respond to that question?

Marianne Riddervold: Sure. I can also respond. And it’s a good question. And I think, like Akasemi said, the kind of the challenge the EU is facing with Hungary and Poland is perhaps the most existential threat the EU is facing in a sense, because it undermines the values of the EU, which is based on human rights and the rule of law and they use a rule-based system, but it’s also voluntary system.

I mean, so you have a distinct decision making procedures and institutions, but in the end if it’s up to the member states to decide what rules or laws they want to abide by or not, the whole system is kind of breaking down. And if I remember correctly, I think what the EU can do is that they have these smaller procedures like fines and Article 7.

Another thing is to take away their voting rights in the Council. The main decision making body in the EU, but that would require anonymity. So Poland and Hungary support each other on that. The third thing is linked to funds. And what the commission is already doing is saying that Poland and Hungary are not getting any money from the rescue package until they comply with the rule of law requirements. And then again, as you say, I mean, Poland-Hungary’s economies are built on EU funds, at least partly.

And they need EU funds for the countries to function, which is a difficult dilemma because if you take them away, you punish the Polish population while you want to punish the government. So this kind of thing with sanctions, et cetera, is always difficult, but at the moment the EU is holding back direct scoop package. So it has moved much further since we did the book, because holding back money was not an option previously. And the EU court is going to rule on whether or not they can even hold back money from the EU general budget.

So there more and more voices saying that unless you start behaving you won’t get money from the EU anymore. That’s how I see it, at least that we have many countries and even Germany is now saying out loud that maybe we won’t give you money if you don’t start behaving, which is a big change. We move slowly, but I think we’re seeing a change.

Christopher Ansell: We have a second question from [Audience 2]. [Audience 2], would you like to ask your question?

Audience 2: Yeah. Thank you so much for putting this event together and this amazing book. I think the prism of crisis is so very productive. It very much speaks to [inaudible] well beyond the EU as well. And I wanted to ask the question, I was really intrigued by I think it was during Marianne’s presentation when you talked about the way that all of these various crises have perhaps counterintuitively, but in some respects, quite encouragingly impelled a reckoning and a coming together of geopolitical trust in the EU and a stronger sense of the EU as a geopolitical actor. And that has its advantages.

Certainly when you look at the pictures of the border that Akasemi shared and the false situation on the board of [inaudible] from Russia, but by the same token, I wanted to ask if there was also a sense that the reasons for the rebirth of geopolitics, which include the rise of non-Western actors, the emergence or reemergence of postcolonial actors from the global south coming forth and demanding a more active voice in international affairs. That has the potential to impel towards a different reckoning, which is a reckoning with the legacies of that geopolitical a way of looking in the world and confronting the EU’s own colonial heritage and reassessing it relationships with the broader non-European world, so to speak.

And so I was wondering if you got in the chapters of your book, any sense of these crises impelling towards that sort of a reckoning as well. And this is a reckoning that also speaks to the challenge of populism and rule of law, because of course, some of the impetus and the source of the support for populous politics has to do with fears of the geo cultural other out there, be it Russia or migrants, or Turkey to the south. And then just a followup question piggybacking on that, what role does Germany have to play here with the transition of leadership in Germany and the new paradigm change in Germany?

Germany, itself as an actor that experienced and contributed to multiple crises steeped in geopolitics that had then atone for it in its internal, external politics in a way that kind of produced a new form of politics that was constituted of the whole EU project itself. So how do you see Germany playing a role now under new leadership in terms of whether geopolitics becomes an exclusionary a way of being an international actor or potentially geopolitics of reckoning with the legacies of inequities in north-south relations, if that makes sense?

Marianne Riddervold: Okay. Thank you. Should I start?

Christopher Ansell: Yeah, go ahead, Marianne.

Marianne Riddervold: Yeah. That’s of course a huge question going to many different aspects of EU foreign policy, how it’s being influenced with the broader geopolitical factors and the fact that the EU is now, I think one of the main challenges or the EU isn’t facing a lot of challenges, but one is finding its place in between China and the US in the bigger geo political context, as you also alluded to because the EU is struggling to… It wants to have good relations with China because of its economic interests. At the same time, the US, of course, wants loyalty from the Europeans when it comes dealing with China in a different geopolitical context.

And there’s of course, also the question of human rights violations in China. So this is something where the EU has not found its way or figured out how it’s going to deal with I think, but if you look at the new German government and what they have said so far on foreign policy is that it seems like the Germany is one, it’s ready to take a more responsibility for foreign and security policy in Europe. And second it wants to take a much hard stance towards China. And also there’s a bigger focus on human rights with the new foreign minister.

The other thing that you’re raising is also a big, big problem, of course or challenge for the EU. The EU likes to present itself as this normative power who promotes human, right and not lateral corporation. Puts norms before interest, et cetera, but it has, as you said, postcolonial legacy, it is often faced with accusations of double standards, et cetera. So I’m not sure how the EU will balance that it’s harder, but of course then again, you have different views within the EU.

We have some member states being very focused on anti-migration, for example, and other states being much more concerned with also for example, human rights considerations. So I think with the US administration, which is focused on human rights you could have more… It’s easier. That’s what Akasemi has also shown in our previous research at the EU struggles more to uphold its focus on multilateralism and human rights without the strong EU’s leadership. But I think these are some of the things that we really, really need to study and that will be core to understand the future of EU foreign policy.

Christopher Ansell: We move on to one question from [Audience 3]. [Audience 3], would you like to ask that question or shall I ask it for you? You posted it.

Audience 3: It’s fine as it stands.

Christopher Ansell: Okay. So, [Audience 3] asked, “Does the timing of France taking the EU Council presidency this term have any implications for these topics?” Since Marianne and Akasemi, you already spoke, Jarle, do have any thoughts on that?

Jarle Trondal: I haven’t thought through that question, but just from the top of my head and also based on the handbook, I think that one response could be that perhaps not that much. And the reason for that is that most of the capacities when it comes to driving agendas in the European Union is vested in the European Commission much more than in the council. So one potential guess would then be that there is a fight within the EU when it comes to which institution is leading when it comes to putting up the big agendas. But clearly the commission has by far the most strongest capacity to drive things through compared to the council, which basically hasn’t much administrative capacities left. So that could be one response, at least.

Christopher Ansell: Okay. We are just basically out of… Well, I should first ask Marianne and Akasemi, did you want to follow up on that at all, or?

Marianne Riddervold: Maybe foreign policy we could see the France has always been the main promoter of more EU stolen reform policy in Europe. So that’s going to be one of its core focus areas. And also it’s also very focused on health severity, so it might help. And that’s what all of these things are also in line with the commission’s wishes. So when France, Germany which it seems like it’s going to be the case and the commission come together things tend to happen in the EU, so in that sense, I guess.

And it’s also the French elections that is when it comes to migration policies, the France is very focused on protecting new borders and you have two right or more populist right wing candidates that does not look good in terms of the EU’s huge challenges when it comes to respecting international conventions and immigration policies, unfortunately. But that’s truly to say maybe that will change as well. Commission again, is focused in on international law. So that could go the other way as well.

Christopher Ansell: Akasemi, final words?

Akasemi Newsome: I guess, just all that I would add to Marianne and Jarle, would be I think one real strength of the handbook is that we are making some important contributions to IR theory, not least of which is our attention to the importance of domestic politics for some of the larger international relations questions such as that of the direction of EU integration. And when it comes to the role of France with the EU Council presidency, the election upcoming of France, I think is quite important as that’ll happen in April.

And so this may lead to quite low expectations then of what holding the presidency means when Macron may or may not be on his way out. And just to reach back a bit to Professor Fisher Onar’s question earlier, I think a lot more research has to be done when it comes to, for example, citizen mobilization within member states around questions of Europe’s relationship to its past, to its colonial past and the degree to which these movements want to transform EU institutions to which these citizens want to have an impact. So I think more research has to be, but I think a fair bit on the importance of domestic politics and citizen movements more broadly is something that we do address in the crisis handbook and I will stop there.

Christopher Ansell: Okay. So I think we’re out of time. So I want to thank the panelists and I want to thank the audience and I think it was a lively session and I would just encourage all of you to go and take a look at this as Nora said so crisis is such a rich lens through which to look at politics and there’s a lot in this volume. So go take a look at it and thanks to the panelists. Thanks to Ray for organizing this and thanks to the audience. Bye-bye.

Marianne Riddervold: Bye. Thank you, Chris.

Akasemi Newsome: Bye-bye. Thanks everyone.

Christopher Ansell: See you all.

[Music: “Silver Lanyard” by Blue Dot Sessions]

Outro: You’ve been listening to Berkeley Talks, a Berkeley News podcast from the Office of Communications and Public Affairs that features lectures and conversations at UC Berkeley. You can subscribe on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Acast or wherever you listen. You can find all of our podcast episodes with transcripts and photos on Berkeley News at news.berkeley.edu/podcasts.

[Music fades]