Jean Monnet Professor of European Integration and Professor of International Relations and Political Science, Boston University; Local Affiliate & Seminar Co-chair, Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies, Harvard University
April 20, 2020
4:30pm - 6:00pm
Goldman Room, Adolphus Busch Hall
Continuing support in the EU for the de-democratization processes in Hungary highlights two realities about the European Union. First, the EU has relatively little power to protect the non-economic rights of the bloc's citizens, and, second, leading European politicians lack the will to stop autocrats like Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán. After the British Conservative Party’s catastrophic attempt to reclaim “sovereignty” from the EU through Brexit, and the defeat of softer “sovereignty” parties in the European Parliament election in May 2019, it seemed to many that only the scattered populist and illiberal forces of Europe are still flying the populist-sovereignty flag. The speaker will argue that the reports of the death of the sovereignty cause have been greatly exaggerated, and its various versions still dominate the EU mainstream. For European conservatives, most of whom are clustered within the EPP, any move toward political federalism represents a slippery slope to a “transfer union.” They fear that EU member states, which already share sovereignty in economic matters, may also be asked to share the risks of maintaining a European market of 500 million people. Orbán’s attacks on “Brussels” might be a nuisance, but his hostility to a “United States of Europe” helps to revitalize the sovereignty cause and fortify European conservatives’ dominant position.