- The new populism. Transnational governance and European integration
- Unknown Publisher
- Document type
- Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
- Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research (AISSR)
In this paper it will be argued that the asymmetrical form of (regional) regulation in the European Union - i.e. strong on economic and monetary free market regulation and weak on social regulation - is forming part of a more comprehensive hegemonic discourse coming to the fore in concomitance with an emergent and novel form of bourgeois domination in the transnational heartland of European production and finance. In questioning the conventional wisdom that the European Unions decision-making structure is moving into the direction of multilevel governance, the multidimensionality of European restructuring in the 1990s will be stressed (i.e. the primacy of supranational economic en monetary integration; the Atlantic setting of European integration; the role of the major powers in Europe, Great Britain, Germany and France; the emergence of new structures of private-public partnership; etc.). It will be argued that the process of European integration from the mid-1980s onwards and particularly the completion of the internal market, the introduction of a single currency, the development of a European employment strategy (and its open method of co-ordination) and the big bang enlargement towards Central and Eastern Europe is instrumental in disembedding the European welfare systems and moving the so-called European model of welfare capitalism into the direction of the prevalent shareholder practices of Anglo-Saxon or Neo-American capitalism. Under the headings of Competitiveness, Convergence and Cohesion ever more decision-making power is moved beyond the nation-state level and away from national practices of democratic accountability, in the process establishing a New Trias Politica at the European level. In the meantime, the illusion of national sovereignty and of a Peoples Europe is upheld. Here the New Populism comes in: by introducing vaguely defined concepts like subsidiarity and flexibility into the European Treaties and by using consultancy terms like best practice and benchmarking particularly in the field of social policy, the illusion of self-determination is maintained while creepingly empowering a European invisible hand. Economic regulation at the supranational level and social deregulation at the national level are then two sides of the same coin.
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