Department of Law

Negative Solidarity: The European Union and the Financial Crisis

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The European Union (EU) is cloaked in expressions of solidarity in a multitude of forms. Despite the fundamental role played by the solidarity in the EU, cracks have appeared and become more evident across Member States. The Euro – a transnational single currency – was a bold endeavour when it was first established, and the jump to it was expected to generate a leap forward for solidarity in the Union; by making European integration stronger, and more resilient. The prolonged battle of the sovereign debt crisis that emerged in 2009 tested the limits of solidarity across the EU: a confrontation waged on multiple levels, playing into constitutional frameworks and socio-economic divisions, and exacerbating the fault-lines between Member States. Yet despite frequent arguments made to the contrary, solidarity was a feature of the financial crisis, albeit of a particular kind. The legitimate expectation of what role different concepts of solidarity ought to have played (particularly where fiscal redistribution is concerned), compared to the role it actually served, ensured that an expectations deficit opened.
This chapter examines solidarity within the EU’s legal framework in the context of the Eurozone crisis. It analyses the ramifications of the idea of solidarity, variously defined, and the implications it may have for the future direction of the Union as it faces ever-greater challenges. This contribution makes three important claims. First, the Eurozone crisis, rumbling on for the past decade, has seen instances of negative rather than positive solidarity being expressed transnationally across Europe. Second, that solidarity and its forms are – legally speaking – grossly misunderstood in an EU context. Third, it is argued that future crises, financial or otherwise, will continue to generate mixed attitudes towards solidarity in Europe, for the fault-lines that became evident in the past decade have not been fully paved over. Accordingly, true transnational solidarity across the EU will need significant time to develop before it can ever be considered ‘organic’ (to borrow Durkheim’s concept).
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationTransnational Solidarity: Concept, Challenges and Opportunities
EditorsHelle Krunke, Hanne Petersen, Ian Manners
Number of pages37
Place of publicationCambridge
PublisherCambridge University Press
Publication yearJul 2020
ISBN (print)9781108487368
ISBN (Electronic)9781108766593
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2020

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