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  • 2018purduephd

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Open crisis, hidden opportunity: Europeanization, the Euro Crisis, and the case of social policy

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

Published
Publication date2018
Number of pages324
QualificationPhD
Awarding Institution
Supervisors/Advisors
Publisher
  • Lancaster University
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

For many the euro crisis has been a complete disaster for the European Union (EU) with a cascade of crisis from one policy area to another with collapse both imminent and inevitable. This conception of crisis relies on a progressive vision. As Angela Merkel epitomised in 2010, "If the euro fails, it's not only the currency that fails…it's Europe that fails and with it the idea of the European Union”. However, what really constitutes a crisis? Can a crisis act as an ‘engine’ rather than an obstruction for EU policy development?

Crises are not uncommon to the EU nor are they necessarily a hindrance. As the history of the EU demonstrates, responding to crisis is normal. A crisis does not present the end of something or a binary option between a negative or positive eventuality. Rather, this thesis purports that a crisis creates a range of possibilities. To demonstrate this, theories of Europeanization are combined with a novel ‘crisis spectrum’ concept comprising of three crisis logics; ‘crisis progression’, ‘crisis diversity’ and ‘crisis stability’ and applied to particular areas of British and Irish social policy.

While these crisis logics can be applied to any policy area, this research focuses on the case of social policy. In particular, the British social policy response from welfare policy to the free movement of EU nationals due to the national immigration debate induced by the euro crisis, and the Irish social policy response from activation policy to the unprecedented unemployment crisis due to the euro crisis. Semi-structured interviews combined with an analysis of primary documents reveal which of these crisis logics is occurring, whether independently or simultaneously within the same period. Both the British and Irish case demonstrate how a crisis does not always occur in a progressive, mechanical fashion, uniformly arresting policy development and policy responses, but that it can lead to a range of responses from different policy areas and contexts.