In the last 20 years we have witnessed political and economic processes becoming more and more interconnected and interdependent. Still, it is taking us some time to acquire awareness of the mechanisms behind such processes. The bottom line of our first 20 years of this century is one: the gradual disappearance of the middle class, the rise to power of populist parties and an increasing inequality even between the richest. In these processes a major role is played by the banks, and the policies adopted to save them.
When Gramsci wrote that a crisis consists in the old dying and the new that cannot be born yet, he certainly did not have the European Union (EU) in mind. Yet, the “interregnum” he referred to, in which a variety of morbid symptoms appear, has also been the culmination of a paradoxical and overly complicated institutional system that is unique to the Union. The limbo the continent is stuck in at the moment makes it so that the EU cannot go forward without dragging its past burdens along. In this sense, the Euro-crisis represents the epitome of the incapacity of European policy-makers to overcome their cooperation problems while at the same time having to deal with unresolved issues. In particular, the Greek debt crisis, brought to the fore a distributive conflict that had always been implicit within the EU’s monetary union (Oatley, 2014): who would bear the cost of Greece’s excessive burden debt? Dinan’s optimism of the “impressive display of unity” shown by the European leaders (Dinan, 2010: 160) may not mesh well with the institutional reality of the EU. Here, I will argue how the European institutional framework may not be suitable for overcoming the crisis.