EU governance in crisis: A cultural political economy perspective on European crisis management 2007–2014


The article investigates the character of economic and financial crisis management dynamics in the European Union (EU) between 2007 and 2014. In particular, it explores the main actors and imaginaries structuring European governance processes in reaction to the North Atlantic financial crisis. First, a Cultural Political Economy perspective on power and discourse is developed by drawing on concepts from Neo-Gramscian International Political Economy and Critical Discourse Analysis. Second, concrete EU policy reactions to the crisis are distinguished into three main policy fields of crisis management, with each being examined in terms of the dominant economic forces, policy discourses and political actors that shape them. The article shows that pre-crisis modes of accumulation and regulation of the European economy have been broadly maintained and even sharpened by the crises in Europe. This consolidated reproduction is especially fostered by the evolutionary interplay of dominant transnational social forces from European export- and finance-oriented industries as well as of the established economic imaginary of competitiveness on the EU level. As such, the article argues for a rediscovery of transnational dynamics in European studies of the crisis as these dynamics play a crucial role in coordinating spatial, temporal and institutional varieties in European reactions to the crisis.

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  1. 1.

    An exception is Bieling (2013), van Apeldoorn (2013) and Overbeek (2012) as they explicitly try to connect political, ideational and structural dynamics of the crisis and include a transnational perspective as well.

  2. 2.

    The ECB started to shift to more expansionary policy aims at this stage of the crisis already. Therefore, it not only started to decrease the key interest rate and relax the conditions for refinancing transactions from the end of 2008 successively, but especially provided additional credits to European banks with its ‘CBPP’ from May 2009 by which it poured an additional €60 billion into EU capital markets (Darvas and Merler, 2013, p. 4).


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Support for this research was provided by an ESRC-fees studentship under grant RES-051-27-0303 and a doctoral stipend from the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation.

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*An annual prize awarded by Comparative European Politics in conjunction with the Council for European Studies Research Network on European Integration and the Global Political Economy.

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Heinrich, M. EU governance in crisis: A cultural political economy perspective on European crisis management 2007–2014. Comp Eur Polit 13, 682–706 (2015) doi:10.1057/cep.2014.49

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  • cultural political economy
  • European Union
  • financial crisis
  • euro crisis
  • economic governance
  • financial market regulation