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50 CES Open Forum Series

Safeguarding Ontological Security and the Specter of a Creedless Utopia

Jul 14, 2022 George Kalpadakis


The wave of domestic reactions generated by the austerity policies which the Greek governments were required to implement during the Euro crisis offers a valuable opportunity to explore the validity of ontological security theory. The Greek civic initiatives seeking to highlight violations of social rights adopted a resolutely pro-EU line of argumentation, which challenged the adjustment policies on the basis of their incongruence with the values embedded in the EU’s normative foundations. They provide an illuminating case of the extent to which less developed small statesare prepared to safeguard their ontological identities vis-à-vis their core shelters, despite the clearly adverse short and medium-term impact that their continued membership will have on their economic growth and social cohesion. At the same time, while the Greek case attests to the powerful influence wielded by the Union’s foundational narrative on preserving the integrity of the European project, the substantive arguments which underpinned these initiatives also shed light on the ongoing existential crisis in which the EU itself has been embroiled. This is rooted in the EU’s apparent ambivalence regarding its commitment to uphold its own supranational creed, from whose universal moral appeal it consistently draws in order to promote European integration.