European Integration or Disintegration? Causes and Origins of the Crises in Southern Europe

LUISS, Rome, 20-21 April 2018

Most of the last decade saw Europe having to grapple with a string of crises that emphasised a multitude of existing cleavages within and among the European Union’s member states. The multiple pan-European financial, economic, political and humanitarian crises have arguably had more substantial developments and consequences in Southern Europe than in the North, with a revival of the division between the South and the North occurring in addition to the traditional East-West divide of Europe (i.e. Portugal, Spain, Italy, Greece, Malta and Cyprus).

This internal division has its origins in the 1970s and 1980s, when a number of these new democratic regimes became members of the European Community, as part of the broad liberal ideal of making the European continent a mainstay for democracy, human rights and economic growth. The shortcomings of this ambitious agenda became manifest after the sovereign debt crisis, exacerbating many of the cleavages that had largely been ignored, but not resolved.

In such a context, while the European multiple crises arguably manifested themselves most strongly in the South, which remains a ‘periphery’ in relation to the Northern ‘core’, the ramifications of these crises could be traced throughout the continent. This turning point for the EU has been acknowledged and partly reinforced by the idea of a ‘multi-speed Europe’ recently put forward by ‘core’ member states such as France and Germany, and notably by the European Commission as one feasible scenario of the EU’s future.

Hence, discussing the origins, the character and development of these crises has become an imperative for practitioners and scholars alike, placing historical research into a key position for furthering our understanding of the European crises and their various effects on Southern member states. Therefore, the present conference welcomes papers on any of the following topics and areas of interest, with a focus on contemporary historical research that covers the last decade and, at the same time, has a clear European dimension that embeds the research in the wider European context outlined above.