European transformations: Are the crises really
over or is it just the end of their beginning?
1|NO CRISIS AS USUAL
It used to be the case that most scholars engaging withthe law, the politics and the economics of European integration
assumed that crises, while perhaps destabilizing the European Communities in the short run, were bound to foster the
consolidation and advancement of the ‘cause’of European integration in the long run.
After all, the European Union
was the stepchild of the two major wars of the twentieth century and of the tumultuous inter‐war period. By the same
token, the European Communities consolidated and grew through (perhaps even thanks to) the different series of
major crises of the subsequent period: the Cold War, the monetary and economic crises of the 1970s, and the fall of
the Berlin Wall. To put it differently, the particular, sui generis, character of the European Communities was understood
as encompassing a close relationship between crises and integration. So much so that crises were reinterpreted from
their mainstream meaning as existential traumas that by virtue of their severity would require serious reconsideration
of the purpose and means of integration
to moments at which the usefulness and purposefulness of the Communities
would become more apparently evident. This goes a long way towards explaining why EU studies reacted rather slowly
in the aftermath of the 2007 crises. Why hurry if at the end of the tunnel a rejuvenated Union appears? Furthermore,
after the initial shock, a sort of theoretical complacency appears to have re‐emerged which seems inclined to downplay
the deleterious implications of the crises. The implication is ‘to do crises’as if they were just another fashionable sub-
ject. The upshot is a form of theoretical amnesia: to assume that whereas the crises challenged the law, the politics and
the economics of the European Union and its Member States, they carry no implications for the methodological and
substantive premises of the legal and politico‐scientific analyses of the European Union.
The authors of the articles that make up this special section share the view that it is time that European legal and
politico‐scientific scholarship take crises in general, and very especially the manifold and overlapping set of crises that
Europe is presently undergoing, seriously. It is time to drop any form of determinism, to overcome the ‘Whig’reading
of the history of European integration, and delve more deeply into the structural causes and structural implications of
the crises; indeed, it is time to take seriously the breadth, depth and scope of the crises, and the extent to which what
is indeed a clear rupture with the legal, political and social constitutional model of the Democratic and Social state is
becoming a new form of government unto itself; the main implication being that we need to be open to questionthe
way in which we, as legal and social science scholars, go about researching. This was the spirit of the workshop in
which the articles were first presented, this has been the spirit in which they have been edited for their publication
here, and this is the spirit in which they are now presented to the reader of the European Law Journal.
Among the few dissenting voices were (some) historians, who were not only keen to take a longer view, but whose professional acu-
men impressed upon them the need to remember the serious difficulties that the Communities had gone through, especially in the
The word crisis comes from the Greek term krisis meaning division and ‘“decision”in the sense of reaching a crucial point that would
tip the scales’(R. Koselleck and M. Richter, ‘Crisis’(2006) 67 Journal of the History of Ideas, 357–400, 358, 2, DOI: https://doi.org/
10.1353/jhi.2006.0013). In a social science context, we may understand crisis as a situation where there is a perceived threat to
the core values or life‐sustaining functions of a social system that requires urgent remedial action in uncertain circumstances (U.
Rosenthal, M.T.Charles and P. t'Hardt, Coping with Crises ‐The Management of Desasters, Riots, and Terrorism, Springfield IL 1989).
310 © 2017 John Wiley & Sons Ltd. Eur Law J. 2017;23:310–314.wileyonlinelibrary.com/journal/eulj