The Challenge of Technocracy

Thursday, 27 June 2019, 6:00pm - 7:30pm, IWM library

The European Union (EU) is a rules-based order par excellence. Often seen as one of its great strengths, its reliance on rules as a functional equivalent of politics and political contestation is actually deeply problematic. The deficiencies of the EU’s rules-based and technocratic approach to governance have become much more apparent over the last ten years – the EU’s ‘crisis decade’.

This panel will focus on two trends that have emerged through the eurozone crisis. Firstly, the crisis has led to an increased reliance on non-majoritarian institutions, such as the ECB, at the expense of democratically accountable bodies. Secondly, the crisis has led to a new emphasis on coercive enforcement at the expense of the voluntary cooperation that previously characterised the EU as a community of law. Both of these trends diminish the quality of democracy at the EU-level as well as within its member states.

The wider problem we aim to highlight is the EU’s tendency to resort to technocratic governance in the face of challenges that require political contestation. In the absence of opportunities for democratic politics, EU emergency governance oscillates between moments of heightened politicisation, in which ad hoc decisions are justified as necessary, and the (sometimes coercive) appeal to the depoliticised rule of rules.


Stefan Auer is Associate Professor in European Studies and Jean Monnet Chair in the School of Modern Languages and Cultures at the University of Hong Kong. Prior to this, he worked at La Trobe University in Melbourne (2006-2013) and University College Dublin (2001-2006). He is the author of Whose Liberty is it Anyway? Europe at the Crossroads (Seagull, 2012) and Liberal Nationalism in Central Europe (Routledge, 2004, pbk 2006), which was awarded the prize for Best Book in European Studies (2005) by the University Association for Contemporary European Studies (UACES). His recent publications include, ‘Carl Schmitt in the Kremlin: the Ukraine crisis and the return of geopolitics’, International Affairs, 91: 5, 2015.

Nicole Scicluna is Visiting Lecturer in International Relations at the University of Hong Kong. Prior to that, she was a lecturer in International Relations at the University of Birmingham and a postdoctoral fellow at Collegio Carlo Alberto, Turin. Her monograph, European Union Constitutionalism in Crisis, was published by Routledge in 2015. Her work has also appeared in the Journal of European Public Policy, the Journal of Common Market StudiesEuropean Law Journal, the International Journal of Constitutional Law, and West European Politics.”

Hans Kundnani is Senior Research Fellow in the Europe Programme at Chatham House. Before joining Chatham House in 2018, he was Senior Transatlantic Fellow at the German Marshall Fund of the United States and Research Director at the European Council on Foreign Relations. He is also Associate Fellow at the Institute for German Studies at Birmingham University. In 2016 he was a Bosch Public Policy Fellow at the Transatlantic Academy in Washington DC. He is the author of The Paradox of German Power(2014), which has been translated into German, Italian, Korean and Spanish. He studied German and Philosophy at Oxford University and Journalism at Columbia University in New York, where he was a Fulbright Scholar.

Moderator: Ivan Vejvoda (IWM Permanent Fellow)

Organized by “Europe’s Futures – Ideas for Action”, an initiative by ERSTE Foundation and IWM.


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