The crisis in the eurozone– which became worse in Europe at the same time that the Lisbon Treaty entered in force at the end of 2009 – has presented the first test of the crisis management capabilities of the intergovernmental approach. As provided under the Lisbon Treaty, the European Council has been the true decision-making centre for the policies adopted in response to the financial crisis, with the Commission playing a technical role. This commentary finds, however, that this institutional set-up has been unsatisfactory and unable to overcome the three fundamental dilemmas of the integration process: the dilemma of veto power, the dilemma of enforcement of the agreements and the dilemma of decision-making legitimacy. While it remains to be seen whether the election of François Hollande as President of France signals the beginning of a new political cycle characterised by new ideas on the institutional future of the EU, if that were to materialise, this paper aims to contribute to the debate on those new ideas.
Sergio Fabbrini is Director of the School of Government and Professor, Political Science and International Relations, Luiss Guido Carli in Rome.