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Title: European Integration through Political Mobilization: Is it Still Possible?
Authors: Ebanks, Daniel
Advisors: Mody, Ashoka
Department: Woodrow Wilson School
Class Year: 2015
Abstract: In this thesis, I ask if it was reasonable to presume that integration driven by political leaders and officials would eventually garner public support and hence consolidate gains for incremental progress towards further European integration. In answering that question, I contribute to a rich literature on European sentiment toward integration. That analysis allows me to assess the likelihood of a renewal in popular support needed for healing the wounds from the 2008 economic downturn. While I cannot forecast a breakdown of European integration, the forces of European sentiment that I identify suggest a pessimistic outlook is appropriate in the coming years. There is a literature, mostly based in US politics, which has attempted to answer this question. It has come to an ambiguous conclusion. Policy is sometimes self-­‐ reinforcing and sometimes self-­‐undermining. Given my analysis of European history and political economy, my assessment is that European integration is a cautionary tale in that it leans towards the theme self-­‐undermining, and it does so because of changes in two key areas. First, exogenous forces outside the control of policymakers, particularly in the area of trade, have naturally led to a decline in European sentiment. Second, citizens who expected the European project to bring domestic policy gains were disappointed by its performance, especially after the 2008 economic downturn. In the wake of the crisis, two groups particularly disappointed by the performance of European institutions were the young and those in the periphery. They believed that Europe would deliver benefits to them—each for different reasons. Until recently, the Millennials had always possessed a stronger affinity for European policies and institutions than other cohorts. At the same time, periphery states had faith that European institutions could better manage their struggling economies than their national governments. But the economic stress of the 2008 crisis has led both groups to question that belief. Thus, both internal and external economic developments are undermining public trust and support in Europe just when it is most needed to bolster its prospects for maintaining a viable union. Thus, it is likely that support for and trust in Europe will continue to decline. There might yet be political mobilization in favor of Europe, but based on the declining levels of intra-­‐European trade, declining support from the Millennials, and declining support from citizens of the Periphery states, a recovery in public sentiment is unlikely.
Extent: 77 pages
Type of Material: Princeton University Senior Theses
Language: en_US
Appears in Collections:Woodrow Wilson School, 1929-2016

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