CORDIS - EU research results

Nation-States and Economic Europeanisation:<br/>The transformative effects of the 1970s crisis (1973-1984)

Final Report Summary - CRISISEUROPE (Nation-States and Economic Europeanisation:<br/>The transformative effects of the 1970s crisis (1973-1984))

The project CRISISEUROPE funded by a Marie Curie fellowship aimed at explaining why Western Europe reacted to the economic crisis of the 1970s by making two choices: a growing Europeanization of economic policies within the EEC framework, and a progressive recourse to neoliberal tools. By examining systematically the alternatives to these two choices, it argues that a fierce debate raged between three different conceptions of Europe (mercantilist, social, neoliberal) and three different institutional settings of economic policies (national, European or global). This debate was resolved in favour of a progressive Europeanization of ideas and policies through the European Economic Community (EEC) institutions, associated with growing neoliberal economic features.
So as to examine this process, four main actors were considered: the government of the three most powerful states, West Germany, the United Kingdom and France, and the most important organization of economic cooperation in Europe, the EEC Commission. As a result sources in 6 countries were exploited (Germany, the UK, France, Belgium and Italy for the EEC sources, and Amsterdam for the archives of the Confederation of the European Syndicate).
The main scientific results of the project are twofold. In terms of economic models, the research has demonstrated that it was possible to identify very precisely actors and debates opposing the three models of Europe (social Europe, neo-mercantilist Europe and neoliberal Europe). A chronology was established, with social Europe being a prominent theme from 1973 to the second oil shock (1979) for example with the birth of regional policy in 1975. The neo-mercantilist developments were especially important from 1977 to 1984. Lastly, public policies associated with the « neoliberal » conception are visible only from 1980 onwards. However, this chronology does not mean that the debate was fully settled in 1984. When Jacques Delors took over the presidency of the Commission, he unveiled a programme based on a mix of these three Europes. This confirms the long-term relevance of this tripartite classification.
In terms of institutional models, the research has not confined itself to the EEC framework. On the contrary, it has explored systematically the other forums of economic regulations that could have replaced the EEC. Indeed, the research clearly shows that some states had envisaged a more nation-centred way, and/or the strengthening of international economic cooperation in other arenas (like the OCDE or the UN). In the end however, the EEC was chosen for economic, but also for institutional and political reasons. It was the best compromise from the institutional point of view as it kept most of the nation-states’ prerogatives intact, while constraining their autonomy sufficiently to ensure credible commitment (i.e. a state can be sure that an agreement at the EEC level will be implemented by its partners).
To conclude on the scientific appraisal, the research has shown why a choice was made in Western Europe to respond to the economic crisis of the 1970s by devolving more power to the EEC, and adopting more neoliberal policies. Crucially, it has also demonstrated that this dynamic was not mechanical and unequivocal, as the three models of economic Europe remained fiercely discussed in 1985.
The main aim of the Marie Curie was to complete an « Habilitation », which is a second PhD with a broader topic. The “Habilitation à diriger des recherches” (habilitation to supervise research) is a compulsory step to reach a position of full professor in the French system (as in Germany for example). The initial aim to complete the habilitation by December 2014 cannot be fulfilled as the original research project was slightly enlarged (by a larger part on social Europe in particular, and by including the year 1985, when Delors became President of the European Commission). However, the completion of the habilitation is still scheduled for October 2015, with an ensuing publication of two books, one in French and one in English.

With regards to dissemination, this Marie Curie project has already led to numerous publications dealing mainly with the history of European integration from an economic and an institutional angle (in particular in terms of history of competition policy). It has also led to more ambitious articles on the state-of-the-art (historiography), and to numerous interdisciplinary ventures, both individual (as author of papers) and collective (as member of scientific committees or of selection committees), mainly between historians and political scientists. For example, an article on the historiography of European integration history and its link with European studies in general was published in a leading French academic journal of European studies, Politique Européenne (2014, 44). Another piece on European integration history and political science was published in the Journal of Contemporary History. Lastly, I have been member of selection committees of two large interdisciplinary conferences to be held in 2015, involving hundreds of researchers, the Council for European Studies (CES) and the International Committee for the Conservation of the Industrial Heritage (TICCIH).
This research contributes to the building of a genuinely European Research Area, first by the dissemination of knowledge but also by overcoming the boundaries between national boundaries, between disciplines (history and political science) and between sub-fields within the same discipline (history of international relations, economic history, global history).

Beyond academia, I have taken part in many events aimed at reaching a wider audience, either through the National History Fair in France (Journées de l’Histoire de Blois), thanks to conferences and via websites designed to disseminate knowledge to a large audience (INA: Institut National de l’Audiovisuel; CVCE: Centre virtuel de connaissances de l’Europe; La Vie des Idées: a web-based think-tank on social science). Targets audience are in particular history teachers in high schools, who use this type of website and visit the National History Fair. The wider public interested in recent history can also be engaged, in particular by specific talks such as the one I gave in a restaurant in Bourges within the “Café de l’Histoire” framework. As a result, this research is a contribution to the reflection on Europe facing the dual challenges of globalisation and of the economic crisis. Today, there is still a debate between these three Europes: social, neomercantilist and neoliberal.

More details on the dissemination activities can be found on the author’s website :
Email :