Francisco Javier Donaire
European Governance in Times of Uncertainty / Gouvernance Européenne en Temps Incertains, subtitled as Liber Amicorum Constantine A. Stephanou, is precisely what its title and subtitle suggest: a miscellaneous collection of studies by scholars not only professionally related to the book’s honoree but also treasuring significant expertise on various aspects of European Economic Governance. ‘Miscellanea’ does not limit itself as a term qualifying the list of works and authors. The word properly encompasses the wide variety of scientific approaches with which the common thematic focus of the book is addressed by twenty-six contributions along its 367 pages.
The first part of the book, devoted to History and Dynamics (of European Governance, as one may easily conclude), starts with a comparison of EU and Ancient Athens’ democracy, but also considering that of modern Greece. The following studies in the same block review the evolution of European integration, and some offer sceptic visions coming from non-EU European countries, like (now) Britain and Switzerland (an ‘EU outsider’ in general terms, but an ‘EU-partner’ in EFTA and Schengen). Brexit, as well as the statu quo, and probable future of the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU), particularly that of the Eurozone, complete the scope of this volume’s first part.
The second set of studies are devoted to sovereignty, democracy and autonomy. Probably this is the section with the clearest approach from Political Science. It firstly deals with the new dimension that European integration brings, within the current EU-induced post-westphalian scheme, to the traditional analyses on sovereignty as the (now-not-so-much-) absolute and indivisible feature or definition of the State’s power. Relatedly, other studies in this part focus on the current political, but also legal, limits that the partial transfer of each of its Member States’ power(s) to the Union imposes on the once unlimited national sovereignty. And neither is this section of the book lacking chapters on more specific (but also interconnected) subjects, such as the principle of judicial protection, or the autonomy of EU legal order in cases of potential conflict with the Union’s external agreements vis a vis third parties (for example, arbitration in the context of the CETA EU-Canada Agreement and the Court of Justice’s Opinion 1/17), or even within the Union’s internal scope (for example, the Court of Justice’s Achmea judgment on bilateral Investment agreements between EU Member States).
The third (and equally significant) part of the book focuses on the now-growing concerns about the role of EU Agencies (and, consequently, technocracy), in particular the European Supervisory Authorities (ESAs) of the EU financial system, as well as the Cooperation among Energy Regulators, including the effects that independent EU Agencies (with the Court of Justice’s doctrine in the Meroni case) bring about: the depolitisation (or ‘de-democratisation?) of the European State’s Res Publica, and, accordingly, that of the EU itself. The third part of the book also surveys a ‘fashionable word’ over the last years in the European arena: ‘Conditionality’. Especially as regards its impact as a trigger for domestic reforms imposing budgetary cuts on social policies and rights, (particularly in Greece. The latter connects with the growing scholarly concerns about the EU’s respect to fundamental rights, democratic control, and even the Rule of Law, related to the Eurozone, and more generally speaking, to the EMU.
The final (and no less substantial) part of the book, which certainly cannot be missed, concerns the EU as an international actor within the current realm of our globalised world. To cut a long story short, it assesses the external dimension of European Governance in globalisation. That’s to say, where it places the EU in the world, with a special focus on both international economic soft law in public markets, and on the achievement of the UN’s Global Sustainable Objectives within and/or by the EU.
Readers will find in this book a collection of various studies on several of the European integration’s governance ‘classical’ issues, suitable for both scholars and non-expert readers, where they will find insights about the present, but also about the upcoming future, without forgetting the past. In a nutshell, this scientifically sound academic work is, to say the least, highly recommendable.
Francisco Javier Donaire Villa is an Associate Professor of Constitutional Law at the University Carlos III of Madrid (Spain).