Not seven, but eleven? European crises or “new normal”?

Date01 January 2018
Published date01 January 2018
Not seven, but eleven? European crises or new
Not seven but (almost) eleven years after the first nonconventionalmonetary measure implemented by the
European Central Bank,
European institutions have (again) proclaimed that the European crises are over.
The growth
of economic activity is regarded as herald of a radical turn in the fortunes of the old continent, and especially of the
Eurozone. A strong coming tide is expected, boosted by the expansive economic policies implemented by other big
blocs, most outstandingly the US. All boatswe are toldwill be lifted, even the muchbattered Greek ship. After
not only sweat, blood, toil and tears, but also public spending cuts, tax increases and a dramatic wage devaluation,
it is possible (even if far from certain) that the government of the Hellenic Republic would be allowed to go off pro-
grammeby the end of the summer.
One swallow (even if it would be a real swallow) does not make a summer, though. It would be silly to deny that
aggregate data point to economic growth, or for that matter, to deny that such growth is likely to continue in the
coming months. There are, however, very good reasons to assume that we may be at the end of the beginning, not
the beginning of the end of the European crises.
To start with, the economic figures are far from reassuring. Europe may be growing, but whose growth is it? If the
1970s brought us stagflation, or the odd combination of stagnation and inflation, the second half of the 2010s have
brought us another (and rather ancient) problematic combination, in the form of growth and rising income and wealth
for the selected few, and ever shrinking purchasing power and declining fortunes for the restless many. This is espe-
cially, but not exclusively, the case of the Eurozone periphery. Unsurprisingly so. The structural reformsthat were
tested in the Eastern transition to capitalism,
then applied (en douceur) in Germany
and (harshly) in Southern Europe
increase competitivenessat the cost of devaluing wages.
No new wave of investment (private or public) is in sight,
Central banksaggressive moves stun markets', Financial Times, 9 August 2007, available at (accessed
27 February 2018).
J.C. Juncker, State of the Union address, 13 September 2017, available at (accessed 27 February
2018). Among the many words pointing in that direction, perhaps the most telling passage is the following: We are now in the fifth
year of an economic recovery that really reaches every single Member State.
Greece seeks to calm Brusselsbailout fears', Financial Times, 18 February 2018, available at https:// (accessed
27 February 2018).
P. Ther, Europe since 1989, trans. C. HughesKreutzmüller (Princeton University Press, 2016); V. Giacché, Anschluss: L'Annesione. La
riunificazione della Germania e il future dell'Europa (Imprimatur, 2013).
M. Promberger, Nine Years of Hartz IVA Welfare Reform Under Scrutiny, (2005) 35 Cuadernos de Relaciones Laborales,3563,
available at (accessed 27 February 2018).
G. Celi, A. Ginzburg, D. Guarascio, and A. Simonazzi, Crisis in the European Monetary Union: A CorePeriphery Perspective (Palgrave,
Cf., e.g., the data reported in C. Lapavitsas, T. Mariolis, and C. Gavrielides, Eurozone Failure, German Policies, and a New Path for
Greece, Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung, pp. 30ff, available at (accessed 27 February 2018). Spain, and to a
lesser extent Italy, have experienced a (moderate) recovery of investment, which is still well below pre2007 levels.
DOI: 10.1111/eulj.12274
2© 2018 John Wiley & Sons Ltd. Eur Law J. 2018;

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