Dr Cris Shore
Integration and the Question of Identity
European Identity and the Search for Legitimacy
Culture and the Democratic Deficit
Inventing Europe through Symbols
EU Information Policy as Political Technology
Flaws in the EU’s Approach to Cultural Management
Can a European Demos be Manufactured?
Europeanisation of Elites: EU Civil Servants
Organisational Culture of the European Commission
Organisational Culture and Corruption
Explaining Corruption in the EU
Dr Cris Shore is the Head of the Department of Anthropology at Goldsmiths College, London.
Since 1992 Dr Shore has been studying the cultural policies and practices of the European Union, in particular the ethos of the European Commission in Brussels and its employees.
He has published widely on the anthropology of policy, applied anthropology, education, new reproductive technologies and the politics of identity. His works include the highly acclaimed Building Europe: The Cultural Politics of European Integration.
This pamphlet is based on a talk given by Dr Shore to the Bruges Group in March 2001.
This pamphlet explores the role of 'culture' in the process of European integration and, more specifically, the way 'culture' has been used by EU elites to advance the project of 'European Construction'1. Although any Bruges Group publication is likely to be branded as 'eurosceptic' and innately conservative, this essay is addressed primarily to the 'left', and to those who are still unclear about the implications of European integration for democracy and self-government in Britain. My analysis is based on first-hand anthropological research into the European Commission and its civil servants in Brussels, often described as the 'heart of the Union' (Nugent 1997)2. The pamphlet falls into two halves. Part one analyses the way concepts of 'culture' and 'identity' have been appropriated by European officials and policy-makers since the 1980s in their attempts to popularise the EU and forge a European public. Part two then examines the administrative regime of the European Commission. It asks, what sort of 'organisational culture' has the EU created within its own supranational institutions? And if the EU civil service represents a microcosm of European unity in practice, what does this indicate about the prospects for integration among the peoples of Europe at large? In conclusion, I highlight some of the flaws and contradictions in the EU's vision of a 'People's Europe'. I also critique the EU's concept of 'supranationalism' and suggest why problems of corruption and lack of accountability may be endemic in the EU’s emerging system government.
Integration and the Question of Identity
Although traditionally defined as a 'Common Market' and association of sovereign states, the European Community was always seen by its 'founding fathers' as a prelude to a deeper political union. As the founding Treaties declare (CEC 1983: 113), the aim was 'to lay the foundations of an ever closer union among the peoples of Europe' and beyond this:
to substitute for age-old rivalries the merging of their essential interests; to create, by establishing an economic community, the basis for a broader and deeper community among peoples long divided by bloody conflict; and to lay the foundations for institutions which will give direction to a destiny henceforward shared.3
Implicit in these statements are two elements. First, as Graham Leicester observes (1996: 18) 'there is a hidden bias ... towards a federal structure', and second, there is a vision of a new kind of political order that will somehow 'go beyond the nation state'. However, these goals hinge largely on the EU's capacity to forge a new sense of 'Europeanness': a collective identity that can supersede exclusively parochial and nationalistic loyalties and lay the foundations for a higher level of consciousness based on allegiance to European (rather than national) institutions and ideals. The problem is that we live in a world still dominated by nation states and these play a crucial role in defining how we see ourselves. Globalisation may have eroded the powers of nation states as sovereign political entities4 but the national principle and national identity remain central to the conferral of political legitimacy in most modern democracies.5 The question often asked by academics and policy professionals today, therefore, is 'can a European identity be developed to underpin the economic and monetary aspects of the integration process, and to challenge the grip that nationalism continues to hold over the modern imagination?'6
This is the dilemma facing the EU today. The Single European Act of 1987 and the Maastricht Treaty of 1992 have laid the economic and legal foundations for what has effectively become an embryonic ‘European State - what Walter Goldstein (1993: 122-3) calls 'the first transnational state of the nuclear era'. However, as Stanley Hoffman says, (1993: 31) it is a state ‘without a European nation, since there is still no European mass media, parties, interest groups (except in business), or public’. Unlike most nation-states, what the EU conspicuously lacks is a common culture around which Europeans can unite. There is no popular ‘European consciousness’ to rival that of the nation-state or lend support to those economic and legal foundations. Moreover, those cultural elements which give unity and coherence to existing national identities (such as shared language, history, memory, religion) are precisely the factors that tend to divide rather than unite fellow Europeans. To quote Hobsbawm (1996: 5):
'[t]he European Union has utterly failed in establishing a European identity as an alternative to various national identities. You can see this even in institutions like the European Parliament, which in effect is elected in each country on the basis of national priorities'.
European identity, insofar as it exists, is largely negative, defined against Europe’s competitors and ‘third country’ aliens. More worryingly the European Commission’s own Eurobarometer opinion polls confirm that there is little sense of belonging to the EU among Europeans and that support for the EU has fallen sharply across Europe since the early 1990s. This is witnessed not least in the declining turnouts at successive European elections. The number of voters overall has dropped from 63% in 1979, 61% in 1984 and 59% in 1989, to 57% in 1994 and only 49% in 1999.7 As Charles Kennedy remarked, more people in Britain voted in the final round of the television programme ‘Big Brother’ than in the last European elections.8
European integration to date has been an elite-led, technocratic affair, conducted over the heads of European citizens, who remain largely indifferent or hostile to the project. This harsh assessment is not confined to opponents of the European Union. On the contrary, it was the main theme of Jacques Santer’s (1995) first speech as Commission President to the European Parliament, amplified in the report of the Reflection Group which prepared the 1996 Inter-governmental Conference (CEC 1995), and reiterated in the recent Commission White Paper on Governance (CEC 2001).
European Identity and the Search for Legitimacy
The challenge for the Commission is how to transform this ‘technocrats’ Europe’ into a ‘people’s Europe’? This is essential if the EU is to win the hearts and minds of the European public. The problem, however, is that the ‘European public’ hardly exists as a tangible or self-recognising category. To put this another way, subjective identification with the European Union (and a sense of ‘We, Europeans’) is extremely weak - except perhaps among certain political, administrative and business elites. However, the legitimacy of the European Union depends on its capacity to generate popular support and capture the allegiance of its citizens (see Garcia 1993). Institutions such as the European Commission and the European Court of Justice often claim that they exist to serve the ‘European interest’ (or ‘Community interest’), but the remoteness of the peoples of Europe from the decision-making process is largely because there is no such thing as a ‘European people’, nor is Europe a ‘community’ in any meaningful sense of the word.9 This begs the question, ‘can the EU can ever be truly democratic?’ . As Miguel Herrero de Miñón (1996: 1) states:
The lack of ‘demos’ is the main reason for the lack of democracy. And the democratic system without ‘demos’ is just ‘cratos’, power.
His argument is that without the underpinning of transnational democracy the new European constitutional order will fail and the self-denominated political needs of Europe’s institutions will be seen as simply a new version or raison d’êtat?10 This is a pessimistic assessment, but one that EU policy-makers nonetheless take seriously. The most successful federations of our time invariably have a national body politic; a sense of ‘we, the people’ - not simply enshrined in the rhetoric of official constitutions, but embedded in the fabric of popular consciousness.11 This is a lesson clearly communicated by events in the former USSR and Yugoslavia. They also have a system of government that, for better or worse, can claim to be of the people, for the people, and by the people. The single currency has made the issue of cultural legitimacy even more urgent. If, as economists predict, the Eurozone economy is subject to shocks that require increased fiscal transfers to prop up the ailing regions of ‘Euroland’, we should not be surprised if people in rich regions like Bavaria, Alsace or the Veneto question why they should pay more taxes to help out neighbours in countries like Greece, Spain or Eastern Europe, with whom they feel they have little cultural affinity.12
A further reason that might explain the EU’s interest in culture stems from economic considerations. As market analysts and businessmen increasingly agree, lack of ‘fellow feeling’ among Europeans is undermining the evolution of a single European market and damaging Europe’s global competitiveness. The failure of Europeans to see the EU as their domestic labour market impedes labour mobility, while the absence of European identity among consumers is preventing the EU from corralling its ‘home’ market (Henley 1996: 23, 70). ‘Made in Europe’ , it seems, is not a label that carries much symbolic appeal for consumers.
Culture and the Democratic Deficit
‘European identity’ has, therefore, become central to the politics of European construction and the EU’s struggle to solve its legitimacy problem. During the 1980s EU strategists concluded that the old ‘neofunctionalist’ approach to integration had reached its limits. Briefly, neofunctionalist theory (as developed by Haas, Lindberg and others) held that political union would evolve gradually from a steady, cumulative process of economic integration: i.e. the progressive enmeshing of economic institutions and harmonisation of laws would inevitably spill over into the hitherto sacrosanct social, cultural and political spheres (see Taylor 1983; O’ Neill 1996). Political union was seen as a rational and mechanical process; a ‘functional’ by-product of economic and technical measures. Neofunctionalist theory assumed that once federal political institutions were established, the transfer of loyalties from the nation states to the federation would follow automatically. A small number of successful international institutions would thus generate a process that would progressively wean people away from their attachment to the nation-state and re-focus those loyalties upon themselves. This unflinching confidence in the inevitability of the ‘spill over’ effect - the famous ‘Monnet Method’ - explains why EU elites felt little need to involve the peoples of Europe in their project of political engineering; their ‘passive consent’ was deemed sufficient.
However, the failure of this strategy during the 1970s (the era of ‘Eurosclerosis’ in EU historiography), led to a renewed interest in the cultural aspects of integration. EU policy-makers therefore decided that more ‘concrete measures’ were needed to enhance the image and identity of the Community through information campaigns and a series of symbolic initiatives. The way these ideas were translated into policy offers key insights into the hidden history of European integration.
Inventing Europe through Symbols: The ‘People’s Europe’ Campaign
In 1984 the European Council meeting at Fontainebleau agreed to set up an ad hoc Committee to investigate ways of re-launching community action in the ‘cultural sector’. The Committee, chaired by Italian MEP Pietro Adonnino, produced two reports the following year outlining strategies promoting the ‘European idea’ - virtually all of which were subsequently implemented (Adonnino 1985).13 These included, inter alia, proposals for:
Europe-wide ‘audio-visual area’ with a ‘truly European’ multilingual television channel;
European Academy of Science (‘to highlight the achievements of European science and the originality of European civilisation in all its wealth and diversity’);
action to simplify cross-border movements;
the formation of European sports teams;
the transmission of more information and public awareness campaigns (to ‘impress upon people the significance of the Community to their lives’);
school exchange programmes, voluntary work camps for young people, and the introduction of a stronger ‘European dimension’ in education.
More controversially, it even proposed a Euro-lottery whose prize-money would be awarded in ECU and broadcast throughout the Community (‘to make Europe come alive for the Europeans’). These populist, nation-building measures were designed to enhance European consciousness and ‘Europeanise’ the cultural sector. However, the Committee went further claiming that to transform the EC into a ‘People’s Europe’ also required a new set of symbols for communicating the principles and values upon which the Community is based. As a Commission ‘Fact File on Culture’ noted:
symbols play a key role in consciousness-raising but there is also a need to make the European citizen aware of the different elements that go to make up his [sic] European identity, of our cultural unity with all its diversity of expression, and of the historical ties which link the nations of Europe (CEC 1988:9).
Ordinary Europeans were seen to be lacking sufficient ‘consciousness’ of their European heritage and identity and the Commission intended to remedy this. The Committee therefore outlined various ‘symbolic measures’ for enhancing the Community’s profile, foremost among which was the creation of a new EC emblem and flag - hoisted for the first time outside the Commission headquarters in Brussels at a formal ceremony on 29 May 1986. The flag itself was taken from the logo of the Council of Europe: a circle of twelve yellow stars set against a blue background. Abélès (2001) says this design was chosen for pragmatic and aesthetic reasons. However, the Council of Europe gave a different rationale:
Twelve was a symbol of perfection and plenitude, associated equally with the apostles, the sons of Jacob, the tables of the Roman legislator, the labours of Hercules, the hours of the day, the months of the year, or the signs of the Zodiac. Lastly, the circular layout denoted union.14
The twelve gold stars is also a Christian symbol representing the Virgin Mary’s halo (Revelation 12: 1). For the Commission, this was ‘the symbol par excellence of European identity and European unification’. (CEC 1988: 5)
Other symbolic vehicles for communicating the ‘Europe idea’ included proposals for European postage stamps bearing portraits of EC pioneers (like Schuman and Monnet); a standardised European passport and driving license; car number-plates bearing the EU emblem; and a European anthem, taken from the fourth movement of Beethoven’s Ninth symphony - the ‘Ode to Joy’ - which the Committee recommended be played at all suitable ceremonies and events. The ‘high profile initiatives to boost the Community’s image’ also included new EC-sponsored sporting competitions and awards, the formation of an ‘EC Youth Orchestra’, a series of projects to conserve Europe’s architectural heritage (the largest of which was the restoration of the Parthenon in Athens), and the invention of a ‘European Woman of the Year Award’. In addition, the Commission has financed over one thousand ‘Jean Monnet Awards’ to create new university Chairs and lectureships in European integration studies with the aim of ‘Europeanising’ university teaching (CEC 1996a).
The Committee also proposed re-structuring the ritual calendar by creating new celebratory events, such as festive ‘European Weeks’ , ‘European months of culture’ (to accompany the ‘European city of culture’ initiative), and a series of ‘European years’ dedicated to the promotion of certain EC-chosen themes (such as the ‘European Year of Cinema’ or the ‘European Year of the Environment’). It also proposed new Community-wide public holidays commemorating ‘decisive moments in the history of European integration’ - such as the birthday of Jean Monnet and the anniversary of the Schuman Declaration (May 9th, which the EU has officially designated ‘Europe Day’). The political aim behind these initiatives was ambitious: to reconfigure the symbolic ordering of time, space and education in order to stamp upon them the presence of EC institutions.
1984 also witnessed the publication of the Commission’s influential Green Paper, ‘Television Without Frontiers’ , a landmark document which proposed using audio-visual policy as an instrument for promoting political integration, albeit based on an out-dated model of public sector broadcasting, and naive assumptions about the cohesive role of the media in nation-building (Collins 1994). This was a particular source of controversy as technically the EC still had no legal competence to intervene in cultural affairs. Jacques Delors (1985: 16) addressed this point in his first speech to the European Parliament as Commission President in 1985:
The culture industry will tomorrow be one of the biggest industries, a creator of wealth and jobs. Under the terms of the Treaty we do not have the resources to implement a cultural policy; but we are going to try to tackle it along economic lines.
The European Commission was thus operating a de facto cultural policy - under the guise of industrial policy - long before the Maastricht Treaty of 1992 gave it the legal right to do so.
EU Information Policy as Political Technology
A third area of EU ‘cultural action’ involved information and communication policy. The Commission spends considerable sums of money each year hiring professional advertising agencies to bolster its image and devise ways of selling the Community to the public. A striking example of this was the 1993 de Clercq Report. Following the disastrous Danish referendum of June 1992 Delors set up a ‘Committee of Experts’ (mostly drawn from the advertising world and senior officials from the Commission’s Directorate-General for Culture ) to examine ways of improving the Commission’s communications policy. The Report’s message was that European identity must be ‘ingrained in people’s minds’ as a ‘good product’ using marketing techniques (de Clercq 1993: 2) and that certain social categories, particularly ‘women and youth’ , should become ‘priority target groups’. More controversially, it suggested that,
newscasters and reporters must themselves be targeted, they must themselves be persuaded about European Union so that they subsequently become enthusiastic supporters of the cause (1993: 35).
Among its other recommendations were the creation of a centralised Office of Communications (‘to ensure that the Community speaks with one voice’ (p.48)), a ‘European library and museum’ (p.27), a European ‘Order of Merit’ (p.34), and ‘personalised certificates awarded to all newly-born babies attesting their birth as citizens of the European Union’ (p.40). In addition to these measures, the report called for new slogans to reinforce the European message and identity (e.g. A Better Tomorrow; ‘Together’ ; and Progress, Prosperity, Protection and Peace’), and the adoption of a new Latin motto, ‘in uno plures’ (‘many in one’) - a move intended to contrast the EU’s emphasis on the plurality and diversity of Europe’s cultures with the US motto ‘e pluribus unum’ (‘out of many one’), which sums up the American ‘melting-pot’ approach to the construction of identity.
The report concluded:
We need to protect our quality of life: our European way of life. Human Rights, tolerance, democracy and savoir-vivre are our heritage. Our culture is a mosaic of cultures, that together make us the envy of the world. Mother Europe must protect her children (de Clercq 1993: 24)
‘Mother Europe’ protecting her children (these being the undisciplined Member-States and their citizens), is a striking metaphor that no doubt would have pleased the marketing experts on the committee - and certainly gained the approval of Jacques Delors and his fellow Commissioners when it was presented to them in March 1993. However, if this initiative was intended to improve public relations, it was badly misconceived. When the report was unveiled at a press conference in Brussels on 31 March 1993 it provoked an angry demonstration and mass walk-out by journalists many of whom wrote damning reports accusing the Commission of behaving like a military dictatorship - precisely the sort of image problem and negative publicity the report was supposed to counter.
Flaws in the EU’s Approach to Cultural Management
The various ‘cultural initiatives’ described above were intended not simply to promote consciousness of Europe but to create a new kind of ‘European consciousness’, one capable of mobilising Europe’s 370 million citizens towards a new conception of themselves as ‘Europeans’ rather than simply nationals. Just as the rise of nationalism had turned ‘peasants into Frenchmen’ (Weber 1979), so ‘Europeanism’ would transform Frenchmen, Greeks, Danes and Germans into ‘Europeans’. During the 1980s, therefore, ‘culture’ became an increasingly politicised domain as its importance to the integration process was recognised (hence the repeated references in EC discourse to Monnet’s supposed statement ‘if we had to begin all over again, we would start with culture’). For European federalists, cultural development became the missing piece of the European jigsaw which could lay the foundations for a transfer of popular allegiance from the nation-states to Brussels.
However, EU attempts to use culture as a tool of political integration contain several flaws. First, despite proclamations about the importance of ‘subsidiarity’, its approach to culture has been extremely top-down, dirigiste and elitist. Most of the measures for forging cultural unity were devised from above by committees of bureaucrats and marketing professionals. The idea that these could somehow be ‘injected’ into the masses reflects a typically ‘Jacobinist’ approach, one reminiscent of Leninism. Second, what is this ‘European culture’ that Europeans should be so ignorant of it? The EU’s concept of culture reifies an out-moded and essentialist view of cultures as discrete, bounded, pure and unproblematic entities (Morley and Robins 1990). This idea, popular in the social sciences during the 1940s and 50s, has been heavily discredited since. Most contemporary approaches to identity and culture emphasise their fluid, fragmentary, contested and hybridised nature.15 Furthermore, it is an imperial, intelligentsia - or ‘high bourgeois’ - view of culture; one that typically portrays Europe as a unique ‘civilisation’ whose heritage and identity stem from a highly selective set of historical influences. Foremost among these are Greek philosophy, Roman law, Christianity, the Enlightenment, the Scientific Revolution, the triumph of Reason, progress, individualism, liberal economics and Parliamentary democracy (Pieterse 1991; Schlesinger 1994). The problem with this conception of history is that it is uncritically selective, eurocentric and chauvinistic. It also perpetuates the myths of imperial elite formation and turns the history of the West into what Eric Wolf (1982: 5) called ‘a genealogy of progress’ , or as Elie McBride calls it, the ‘Plato to NATO’ conception of European civilisation.16
Paradoxically, despite this noble heritage, ‘European identity’ is also portrayed as a fragile, delicate entity constantly under threat from dangerous and contaminating foreign influences (which includes everything from American television and Japanese technology, to Canadian wheat and African immigrants). The ‘spectre of Americanisation’ (Baudrillard 1988) and fears about US media imperialism are recurring motifs in EU (and particularly French) discourses on European culture - which is ironic given how much American culture owes to European cultural influences.
Third, among the most important aspects of a people’s culture and identity are history and language - two areas which most divide EU Member States. However, the idea of ‘forging’ a common history and language is as politically fraught as it is impracticable. That said, many EU supporters now advocate the ‘Europeanisation’ of the school curriculum to replace the nationalist bias in subjects like history, literature and geography (Moussis 1997). The European Commission has even funded several attempts to re-write history text books from a ‘European perspective’ . The clearest examples of these include Brugmans’ Europe. Rêve-Aventure-Réalité (1987), Couloubaritsis et al’s The Origins of European Identity (1993), and Jean-Baptiste Durosselle’s 416-page magnum opus, Europe: A History of its Peoples (1990), which the Commission also paid to be translated into every official EU language. Significantly, each of these volumes represents European history as the story of Europe’s march of progress towards political union, culminating in the benign leadership of the EU, guided by its ‘founding fathers’ , like Monnet, Adenauer, De Gaspari and Spaaks. This ‘handful of courageous, visionary statesmen’ as Fontaine (1991: 5) and other EU historiographers portray them, were the true saviours of Europe from the scourges of Fascism, nationalism and war.
Finally, the assumption underlying EU thinking, summed up most clearly in Article 128 of the Maastricht Treaty, is that ‘European identity’ can be developed alongside other identities (ethnic, regional, national) in a harmonious and neatly stratified hierarchy of nesting loyalties - what I call the ‘Russian doll’ theory of identity-formation. This model perhaps derives from the experience of EU elites themselves: most of those I have talked to state emphatically that they ‘feel European’ and that working in a multi-national environment has created a strong sense of ‘European identity’ , but that they have not lost their national identity (although this has become less important). (‘I am a European first, and a national second’ , is how EU officials often expressed this to me). However, even if this is an experience common among EU elites, it is not the experience of most EU citizens. Moreover, the concept of culture used by these elites is peculiarly compartmentalised and circumscribed. Their definition assumes that ‘culture’ can be neatly confined to art and music, television, architecture, sport and tourism, and divorced from politically sensitive issues such as money, sovereignty and government itself. In practice, however, cultural identity spills over into all of these areas. Indeed, virtually all the major EU political debates - from the single currency to the European Convention on Human Rights and the constitutionalisation of EU law - centre around questions of national culture.
Can a European Demos be Manufactured?
There are many further illustrations of instrumental EU ‘cultural action’ that I could have discussed, such as the invention of ‘European citizenship’ , or the mobilisation of statistics by the Commission’s ‘Eurostat Office’ in order to create the notion of ‘European public opinion’ - thereby inventing the category of a tangible ‘European public’ whose fears and concerns and interests the Commission can thereafter claim to represent (Barry 1993; see also Booker and North 1996). But the key question is, can a European subjectivity be engineered in this way, and will these tactics succeed in capturing the loyalties and cultural legitimacy the EU so urgently needs?
In many respects, what the Commission is doing is not dissimilar to that which nationalist elites achieved during the formation of European nation-states in the nineteenth century: i.e. mobilising symbols and inventing traditions in order to give flesh and credibility to a new political order.17 The nation-state provides a useful model for comparison. As many scholars argue, nation states are ‘imagined communities’ (Anderson 1983), constructed largely through modern communications technologies, especially the novel, the newspaper, the map and the museum: these were the forces of modernity which - along with conscription, taxation and mass education - helped to create the conditions for imagining oneself as a distinctly ‘national’ subject. The situation confronting the EU is, of course, more problematic given the lack of a common European language and shared history. Moreover, national identities were forged over a period of centuries, not years - and often through violence and conquest. Yet it is not unreasonable to assume that, with the passage of time and favourable conditions, a stronger sense of ‘European identity’ will emerge among future generations, providing the EU achieves what Gellner (1983: 142) terms the ‘homogenous cultural branding of its flock’ . What we are witnessing in the EU’s struggle for hegemony is a process that Michael Hechter (1975) calls ‘internal colonialism’ . As Susan Sontag notes, where once Europe symbolised empire and expansion, the new idea of Europe is about retrenchment: ‘the Europeanisation, not of the rest of the world, but ... of Europe itself’.18
In public EU officials are optimistic about the prospect of creating a European identity to rival nationalism and speak about the ‘inevitability’ of ever-closer union. According to Pascal Fontaine (1993: 5) (Jean Monnet’s former Chef de Cabinet), ‘[t]he process of European unification is now irreversible’ ; the only alternative to further integration being ‘nationalism, insecurity and instability’ (EU supporters often use the Balkans to exemplify this Hobbesian image of what happens when European nation-states are allowed to pursue their bellicose instincts). Privately, however, officials are less optimistic and less certain about Europe’s so-called ‘federal destiny’. When asked about the development of a European consciousness among ordinary citizens they usually say that it is too early to tell or that ‘true Europeans will only emerge among future generations of children who have been educated to see the world through a non-nationalistic lens’ - hence, the EU’s emphasis on school children as a priority group for EU information campaigns (Glendening 2001).
The EU’s claims about ‘going beyond nationalism’ also need to be questioned. Paradoxically, European integration has provoked a renaissance of ethnicity and nationalism - particularly of the regional kind - much of it mixed up with fears about loss of sovereignty and identity and the promise of wealth and status in a future ‘Europe of the Regions’. Forging European identity among EU citizens has also been at the cost of increased xenophobia and racism against the non-European ‘Other’. As anthropologists have long argued, identity-formation is a dualistic process of exclusion as well as inclusion. In short, people define themselves not so much in terms of who they are, but against that which they are not. (Cohen 1982; MacDonald 1993). To create ‘Europeans’, the category of ‘non-European’ or ‘Third Country alien’ must become sharper and more salient. That, in turn, is fuelling a new form of Euro-racism based around ideas of ethnic exclusivity and the supremacy of Christian civilisation (Alibai 1989). This undercurrent of cultural chauvinism and Islamophobia was voiced most clearly by the Italian Premier, Silvio Berlusconi, in his recent remarks about the ‘superiority’ of Western civilisation and his call for Europe to recognise its ‘common Christian roots’.19 The EU has tried to get round the accusation that its policies are leading to both increased xenophobia on the one hand, and to the homogenisation of its Member-State cultures on the other, by continually emphasising the policy motifs of ‘unity in diversity’ and the ‘flowering of cultures’ (CEC 1996b). However, historians will recall that similar slogans was coined during the Chinese Cultural Revolution.
A further contradiction in EU cultural policy is that with its founding fathers, flag, anthem and other symbols of statehood, the EU seems to be following in the footsteps of the nation-state. Ironically, the very model of state-formation that the EU’s pioneers sought to ‘transcend’ is being re-created at a supranational level in what increasingly looks like a European superstate, complete with its own central bank, currency and armed forces. However, EU member-states are being internationalised even as they are being ‘Europeanised’ , and the EU’s attempt to create a ‘European culture area’ in an age of globalisation appears rather like trying to close the door after the horses have bolted.
Finally, whether the goals of the European Commission are feasible is a question also bound up in the future of the nation state. Many theorists blithely assume that the nation-state is a creature of the past; an entity rendered obsolete by globalisation and what Edward Heath was fond of calling the modern ‘world of giants’ in which we live. But this argument is unconvincing. The vision of a post-war world divided between ever-larger political federations and regional superpowers has proved illusory. As Peter Shore observed (2000: 232): ‘The United Nations that was launched in 1946 with 52 members, now has 188’ - and that number is rising. People throughout the world not only continue to harbour desires for democratic self-government, they also continue to see the nation state as the best political system for achieving these goals. Viewed historically, it would seem that the processes of dissolution set in motion by the collapse of the multi-ethnic, multinational, and multilingual empires of the Middle Ages has still not run its course. The emerging ‘New World Disorder’ , as Anderson (1992) argues, is likely to be shaped increasingly by the break-up of old polities into smaller nation-states. On this reading of history the EU, like the former USSR, represents but a temporary ‘blip’ in an otherwise continuous process of dissolution and fragmentation in the of age of late nationalism.
From Europeanisation of the Masses to Europeanisation of Elites: EU Civil Servants
If the EU attempts to ‘invite the masses into history’ have so far failed to create a palpable ‘European public’ , what of the Europeanisation of EU elites themselves? Are the supranational institutions of the EU crucibles for the formation of a new kind of ‘supranational’ political class? And to what extent do EU civil servants (or fonctionnaires) embody the kind of ‘Europeanist’ ethos and identity espoused in their own official documents and proclamations?
It was in search of answers to these questions that I began my investigation into the ‘organisational culture’ of the European Commission in Brussels. I also wanted to test the assumption that ‘once appointed, officials will tend to acquire a loyalty to the EU institutions’ rather than their respective nation states (Smith 1989), as many leading integration theorists had predicted. According to Ernst Haas (1958) and others, prolonged intermingling among national officials and politicians within the EU institutions would result in a steady transfer of loyalties from the nation-state to Europe. As I discovered in Brussels, the local idiom for this was engrenage, which translates roughly as ‘enmeshing’ . Integration theorists predicted that the habits of working together would have ‘a positive spillover effect on the political psychology of elites’ (Webb 1983: 17-18) and that this would engender a process of ‘cognitive change’ culminating in the development of a new type of ‘European consciousness’ (O’ Neill 1996: 42). Significantly, this process was anticipated long ago by Jean Monnet. Reflecting on the special nature of the European civil service embodied by the High Authority of the ECSC in the 1950s, Monnet wrote enthusiastically about the Commission as a ‘laboratory’ in which a new kind of ‘European Man’ would be born.20
The term ‘supranationalism’ epitomised this Europeanist ethos. Technically, supranationalism is a legal concept that refers to the unique competencies and autonomy of Community institutions, and how these differ from ‘intergovernmental’ institutions (and from national and international law). Robert Schuman popularised the term in 1951 when he used it to describe the character and functions of the High Authority of the ECSC - the precursor of the Commission.21 As Monnet and Schuman saw it, supranational bodies would control the excesses of nation-states by removing their power over iron and steel production and atomic energy - the sinews of war. This was seen as start of a process that would make war between Germany and France literally impossible - the conventional wisdom being that nation-states are inherently unstable and bellicose, and therefore need to be ‘domesticated’ . Again, this assumption rests on a simplistic and distorted interpretation of history. It is not so much ‘bellicose nations’ that precipitate wars, as undemocratic states, particularly those founded on ideologies of expansion and beset by problems of cultural legitimacy.
Like most political concepts, ‘supranationalism’ is also an ideological term steeped in normative assumptions. Foremost among these is the idea that the EU institutions create spaces of identity that transcend the logic of nationalism, and that Europe’s de-territorialised and de-nationalised supranational civil servants embody a ‘higher’ and more noble set of principles: a distinctly ‘European’ ethos and morality that stands above the more primitive nation state.22 As Ray Pahl (1991) says, the EU represents itself as the continuation of the Enlightenment project, championing the ideals of reason, progress and civilisation.
Organisational Culture of the European Commission
So what sort of organisational culture has the EU created within its institutions, and what are the implications for European integration more generally? There have been numerous accounts of the EU’s administration, some by EU officials themselves, but very few based on empirical research.23 The view from the Commission (its official line) is that the EU civil service is unique in the world of international organisations. Cosmopolitan, multinational and multilingual, it has succeeded in creating a hybrid culture without parallel in the history of public administration: an organisational culture that harmoniously blends together the different administrative traditions of its member states to form a ‘European’ model of civil service with its own distinctive identity and ethos. A ‘cultural melting pot’ that supposedly combines all that is best from the different national civil services, the Commission is also portrayed as small, dynamic and efficient: a ‘lean machine’ in the words of its former Secretary General.24
This official picture is partially accurate. With only 18,000 permanent staff drawn from across Europe, the Commission is certainly a small, multilingual and multinational administration. It has also developed a unique style and ethos, which arises from the geographical concentration (and isolation) of staff in the 47 or so EU offices and buildings in Brussels and from the fact that a job in the Commission tends to be a job for life. The fact that new Commissioners swear an oath of allegiance to the European Community and its interests - an obligation also enshrined in Article 11 of the Staff Statutes - also reinforces this sense of autonomy and identity.
Without going into a lengthy analysis, three factors stand out as particularly salient. First, although staff talk up the differences between the 42 different Directorate-Generals (DGs) and services, the Commission’s administrative norms and practices are quite uniform and characteristically francophone in orientation (which is hardly surprising as Monnet used the French civil service as his model for the Commission). Moreover, within the Commission there is still a very strong ethos and esprit de corps - a sense of belonging to ‘The House’ (la maison), the idiom most staff use when referring to the institution. Second, I also found interesting ‘spillover’ between the way the Commission represents itself publicly (as ‘custodian of the Treaties’ , ‘defender of the Community interest’ and ‘motor of integration process’) and the way individual staff viewed themselves. Far from being mere public servants, officials tended to view themselves as an elite corps of ‘policy-makers’ , ‘intellectuals’ and ‘diplomats’ rather than mere ‘public servants’. This reflects less what psychologists call ‘cognitive dissonance’ than the typical French conception of a ‘civil servant’ (which has no translation in English other than fonctionnaire). It also reflects the fact that a large percentage of staff are from elite institutions and have legal training. Moreover, the origins and ethos of the Commission reinforces that kind of vanguard self-image: in the early days Walter Hallstein tried to instil a supranational ideology and sense of élan within the organisation. What I found, and what other researchers confirm, is that this sense of mission and commitment to the European ideal persists, even among new recruits (cf. Willis 1982; Egeberg 1996; Spence 1994). Finally, my research confirmed what integration theorists had predicted: that prolonged exposure and intermingling among national officials does indeed lead to a progressive shift in role perceptions and identification.
But is this ‘engrenage’ evidence of a lasting cognitive change or simply an ephemeral, corporate loyalty that one would expect of any sufficiently motivated company employee? The evidence points to the former and to the conclusion that engrenage does work. Within the EU institutions a process of identity-formation is occurring that is transforming EU staff into a self-recognising ‘community’ with its own distinctive identity and ethos. Various factors contribute to this process: the shared experience of exile (depaysement) and the social distance from the host population; the ‘ghettoisation’ of EU staff in the European Quarter and in certain residential neighbourhoods in Brussels; the shared sense of mission, of working together to ‘build Europe’, and the ideology of European integration that still informs (and legitimises) most of what the EU does; the common lifestyle, the quasi-diplomatic status, high salaries and free education for children of officials in the prestigious European Schools. All of these factors combine to reinforce the important sense of ‘distinction’ and esprit de corps that is transforming the EU administrative elite into a bureaucratic caste. Significantly, many officials reported that they felt ‘insulated’ , and that the institutional space they inhabit isolates them from the host population, as well as from ordinary people in their countries of origin. Most expatriate officials in Brussels thus occupy a position similar to diplomats and colonial administrators: they are in Brussels, but not of it.
So far I have discussed only the ‘integrative’ mechanisms: those factors that unite EU officials as a cohesive bureaucratic elite. Bureaucracies, however, rarely conform to the Weberian ideal type. My research also identified a vibrant, anti-Weberian ‘informal’ system of administration based on ‘pragmatic’ codes of conduct, private interests and personal networks. For many observers, this ‘informal system’ is something to be celebrated. As Keith Middlemas (1995) argues in Orchestrating Europe, the EU’s system of personal and professional networks is what gives the EU its dynamism and flexibility. However, a system of governance based on ‘networks’ is never far from nepotism and corruption. Beneath the surface of bureaucratic rationality, the Commission is much more complex and messy in its everyday practices. David Spence (1994), himself a Commission official and analyst, argues that so pervasive and important has the system of personal networks become that it now constitutes a ‘parallel system of administration’ with its own rules, codes and career paths. The characteristics of this ‘informal system’ include:
highly politicised senior management with close links to parties in power;
an institutionalised system of national quotas (with particular posts being reserved for particular nationalities);
a powerful Cabinet system, whose members act as bastions of national self interest, and who constantly interfere in staffing matters (Ross 1995; Page 1997);
a host of informal methods used to circumvent the formal procedures, including the parachuting of political appointees into senior administrative positions (parachutage and piston); nepotism and cronyism; fly-by-night titularisation exams and rigged concours.
The staff unions blamed Delors for encouraging these practices, virtually all of which were clearly identified two decades earlier in a report by the Dutch Commissioner, Dirk Spierenberg.25
Most of the officials that I interviewed recognised that this was the reality of ‘how the House works’ and accepted it as a fact of life. Some even supported these practices on the grounds that the formal system simply ‘didn’ t work’. Therefore, you needed to ‘bend the rules’ just to get things done. As one senior Belgian official with over thirty years experience summed it up, the Commission was run by ‘Mafias’ - Catholic, Socialist, Christian-Democrat, Enarque - and to understand its operation one should read the history of the Middle Ages. These observations are important for understanding the crisis that befell the Santer Commission in 1999.
Organisational Culture and Corruption
Following publication of the report on March 15 1999 by a Committee of Independent Experts investigating allegations of ‘Fraud, Mismanagement and Nepotism in the European Commission’ , the entire College of Commissioners resigned, plunging the Commission into the most serious political crisis in its 42-year history. What began in 1998 as a routine dispute in the European Parliament over signing off the accounts in the EU’s annual budget, escalated into a humiliating defeat for the President and his colleagues and serious damage to the international credibility of the Commission. But the episode also reveals critical insights into the complex relationship between the Commission and the European Parliament and the defective organisational cultures of both institutions.
The Report focused on just a few areas of Commission activity - tourism, the Med programmes, the Humanitarian Aid Office (ECHO), EU vocational ‘Leonardo da Vinci’ training programmes, nuclear safety and the Commission Security Office. In each of these programmes it found evidence of administrative failure, financial irregularities, mismanagement and nepotism - such as the ‘disappearance’ of 'a31.5 million worth of funds from the humanitarian aid office and some 'a317 billion in structural fund projects that the Commission was unable to account for (because it was not Commission practice to keep records of expenditure). Elsewhere it noted:
a catalogue of instances of fraudulently altered tender specifications and disregard for lower tenders, fictitious and double invoicing, inflated fees; unjustified and illegal payments, non-existent reports, simple fraud where a staff member wrote cheques payable to herself, clear cases of favouritism in employment, and evasion of tax and social security obligations ... ‘ghost personnel’ who could not be accounted for, a low level of overall competence and a pervasive sub-culture of petty graft, favouritism and criminality. (MacMullen 1999: 711).
Perhaps the most serious case of corruption was found in the Commission’s security office. The report drew a sinister picture of a shadowy inner world of clientelism and corruption where collusion between security officials and the Belgian police was rife. The Security Office had become ‘a state within a state’ : ‘a private club for former police officers from Brussels ... for whom special recruitment "competitions" were arranged’ . It had even put the Commission’s own internal anti-fraud unit (UCLAF) under surveillance to block its investigations.
The report was particularly scathing on the attitude to issues of accountability and responsibility that pervades the Commission. In a damning paragraph it concluded:
It is becoming difficult to find anyone who has even the slightest sense of responsibility. However, that sense of responsibility is essential. It must be demonstrated, first and foremost, by the Commissioners individually and the Commission as a body. The temptation to deprive the concept of responsibility of all substance is a dangerous one. That concept is the ultimate manifestation of democracy. (CIE 1999: 144).
While no individual Commissioners were found to have personally benefited from fraudulent dealings involving Community funds, the Commission President (Jacques Santer), Vice President (Manuel Marên) and the Commissioner for Education and Training (Edith Cresson - a former French Prime Minister) were singled out for particular criticism. Cresson had appointed her long-standing personal friend and dentist, Mr. Berthelot, to a highly paid post as ‘Visiting Scientist’ in DG XII. Mr. Berthelot possessed none of the scientific qualifications required, his appointment was manifestly irregular, his contract was extended beyond its legal limit, and he produced no work for the Commission. His only discernible activity was constant visits to the town of Chatellerault - where Cresson had remained mayor until the end of 1997 - at the request of the Commissioner.
The reactions of senior Commissions to the report were equally revealing. Its blunt language had clearly shocked the Commission - which had expected the report to lay the whole issue to rest. In a press conference held immediately after the report’s release, an angry Jacques Santer expressed indignation, declaring that he was ‘offended’ . The tone of the report was ‘wholly unjustified’ and he himself was ‘whiter than white’.26 Edith Cresson pointedly refused to accept that she had done anything wrong. When questioned by MEPs she retorted ‘are we supposed to work only with people we do not know?’ . Prior to the report’s publication she had initiated legal proceedings against two newspapers (Libération and the Financial Times) which she alleged were engaged in a right-wing led campaign against her. The Labour MEP Michael Tappin asked whether she would resign on account of ‘the atmosphere of illegality and cronyism which profits the family and friends of your circle’? Her reply was that she was being hounded only because she had tried ‘to do something for Europe’. She subsequently told France 2 Télévision that she had no reason to resign as the Commission had been found collectively responsible. To compound this defiant stance, she then went on to dismiss the charges against her as part of an Anglo-German ‘conspiracy’ and a ‘German-inspired bid to damage France’.27 Even more astonishing were reports that many officials within the Commission privately agreed that Cresson had been a victim of an ‘Anglo-Saxon political crusade’ against the Southern culture of state administration.28 As Cresson declared, to the embarrassment of French colleagues, she was ‘guilty of no behaviour that is not standard in French administrative culture’.
These reactions only inflamed public outrage and media hostility (although criticism was notably more muted in southern Europe). Following the demise of the Santer Commission, European leaders spoke about the need for urgent ‘root and branch reform’ of the administration. The new Commission under Romano Prodi made institutional reform its virtual raison d’être. Henceforth, ‘Sound and Efficient Management’ would be the new policy priority. Neil Kinnock, Vice President of the Commission, was charged with the job of cleaning up the administration. But he has faced a great deal of hostility and resistance, particularly from the staff unions.
Explaining Corruption in the EU
How should we interpret these events? The views expressed by staff are interesting. Four kinds of argument are commonly advanced to explain these mistakes and irregularities in policy implementation:
1. they are the result of chronic understaffing - which member states are to blame for;
2. examples of fraud are largely confined to non-statutory staff - i.e. ‘outsiders’ and external contractors to whom the Commission had devolved its work;
3. the reform agenda is a covert attempt to weaken the autonomy of the Commission spearheaded by anti-Europeans who want to ‘re-nationalise the administration’;
4. the level of fraud is no greater than that found in any other national administration anyway.
The first three arguments can be easily dismissed: first, the Commission had enthusiastically launched these programmes in full knowledge of its limited resources. Moreover, while it is a common tactic to blame the Council of Ministers for failing to authorise staff increases, in fact, the Commission had not even requested them. Second, fraud and mismanagement were found to be endemic - and not only among non-statutory staff. What the Report exposed was, arguably, just the tip of the iceberg. Third, proclaiming itself ‘defender of the European interest’ begs the question ‘what right do un-elected officials have to claim this status’?
Finally, the scale of fraud and budgetary misuse in the EU is by no means insignificant. Apart from the fact that about half the EU budget is spent on the Common Agricultural Policy, itself a deeply irrational and wasteful use of resources, on a straight accounting basis, staggering sums are not spent as intended. As one group of EU analysts note:
About 5% of the EU budget is lost to various forms of fraud - from non-existent tobacco farms to imaginary decontamination plans to help deal with Chernobyl - while another 5% is misappropriated, and not spent on the programmes for which it was designed. The 10% of the EU budget which the European Court of Auditors accepts is misspent amounts to about 'a35 billion every year.29
The impression conveyed by the report was that of a ‘clean North’ crusading against a ‘corrupt South’ within the EU institutions, reflecting profoundly different standards of public behaviour among member state nationals - a view strongly supported by many media commentators and political scientists. However, ‘corruption’ is a relative concept, and ‘Nolan principles’ of conduct for public servants are not standards that every country aspires to. ‘What would be considered as nepotism or shameless patronage in Britain’ , observe Pujas and Rhodes (1999: 670), ‘might be seen as fair practice or even a moral duty in other countries, including the countries of southern Europe’.30
Can we, therefore, speak of a ‘clash of cultures’ in Europe between the ‘ambassadors’ of northern and southern systems of public administration?31 Interestingly, this is the conclusion reached by Pujas and Rhodes (1999), two political scientists at the European University Institute, in a major comparative study of Western European administrations. They suggest that growth of corruption in the Commission arises from a combination factors, many of which are intrinsic to the way the EU’s bureaucracy is organised. These include:
the extreme politicisation of the bureaucracy;
the EU’s ‘democratic deficit’ (i.e. its social, cultural and political ‘distance’ from the public: ‘The EU has a bureaucratic system isolated from civil society, while the Council of Ministers and Commission have created a culture of silence, secrecy and internal solidarity against external scrutiny’ (Pujas and Rhodes 1999:701));
the growth of the EU’s budget - combined with inadequate mechanisms of financial control and administration accountability.
However - and this is the point Pujas and Rhodes stress - institutions and rules are far more important for understanding the proclivity for corruption than arguments about ‘embedded social norms’. In many respects the administrative arrangements of the EU lend themselves to fraud and misuse. The CIE report drew similar conclusion:
the de facto tolerance of irregular employment practices created ‘an institutional culture [that] is unacceptable. The truth is that, if a "system" is in itself inadequate, it invites irregularity’ (CIE 1999: 61).
This accusation goes far beyond any suggestion that corruption is a marginal problem confined to ‘dishonest individuals’ . It suggests that the problem is structural and systemic: that the EU’s administrative regime actively encourages corrupt practices. Two factors further illustrate this. First, in order to conduct its enquiry the independent experts had to suspend the Staff Statutes, especially Article 17 on ‘confidentiality’ , which has long acted as a gagging clause and a deterrent against whistleblowers.32 Second, most of the evidence upon which the enquiry was based was supplied by a middle-ranking Dutch official, Paul Van Buitenen, working in the EU’s anti-fraud unit. Buitenen was rewarded for his courage by being promptly sacked from his post and subjected to disciplinary action.
This evidence seems to challenge the idea of the Commission as a ‘cultural melting pot’ in which the best practices of the different civil service traditions meld together.33 Far from illustrating the moral superiority of the EU supranational order, the story of EU corruption provides a stark warning for the peoples of Europe about the bureaucratisation - or Brusselsisation - of the EU.
The question the CIE report posed was how could such a sub-culture ‘develop, exist and prevail in a section of the European civil service without being detected from within, brought to light only when a newspaper published the allegations?’ (CIE 1999: 102). The answer is that the existence of fraud within the Commission was known about for several years prior to the report, but was tolerated by a weak and lax European Parliament. For three consecutive years, despite warnings of ‘grave irregularities’ in the Commission’s expenditure from the European Court of Auditors, the European Parliament granted ‘discharge’ for the Commission’s budget. When documents leaked to the press finally compelled MEPs to take action, the initial response from the leadership of the Socialist Group was to try protect their friends in the Commission by preventing the scandal from breaking. The body that was supposed to provide a ‘watchdog’ over the EU executive on behalf of the European electorate signally failed to do so because it was not in its interests to do so; because Parliament and Commission are partners with a shared vested interest in defending the EU project from its critics, whoever they may be.
Is evidence of widespread nepotism, fraud and corruption within the Commission proof that the ‘Europeanisation of national elites’ is not working in practice; a refutation of the assumption that EU officials will shift their loyalties towards the supranational institutions they serve? On the contrary, collusion between EU officials, MEPs and politicians suggests that a sense of common purpose is developing, not only within the institutions, but also between them. In short, what we see is the consolidation of an increasingly self-serving and detached classe politique with its own peculiar interests and agendas. To use a Marxian expression, the EU’s transnational, technocratic elite appears to be transforming itself from a ‘class in itself’ to a ‘class for itself’ . But perhaps creating a European Nomenklatura is a necessary step for the EU to transform itself into a truly ‘supranational’ and post-national political order. Whatever the explanation, one political lesson is clear. The expansion of the EU’s supranational order will result in an increasing concentration of power in institutions that are un-elected, unaccountable and increasingly self-serving. The unpalatable truth is that this seems to be the logic of the Monnet Method. But then, for Monnet and his successors, democratic self-government was always of secondary significance to the ultimate goal of ‘building Europe’.
'Construction européenne’ is the idiom most commonly used in EU circles to describe the process of building Europe. For an analysis of the role of metaphors in EU politics see Shore 1997. For a more detailed analysis of the arguments explored in this pamphlet see Shore 2000, Building Europe: The Cultural Politics of European Integration.
The ethnographic research upon which this paper is based was carried out in Brussels between 1995 and 1996. I would like to express my thanks to the ASARCO (project number R000236097) for their generous help in supporting this work.
CEC 1983: 15. The passage is from the preamble to the 1951 ECSC Treaty.
As Gellner (1983: 1) sums this up: ‘Nationalism is primarily a political principle which holds that the political and the national units should be congruent’.
See Smith 1992.
Source: Institute for Citizenship, 2000, Speak Out on European Citizenship: Teachers’ Guide, London: Institute for Citizenship.
Cited in Courouble 2001: 19.
This was also the conclusion of the German Federal Constitutional Court in its deliberations on the Maastricht Treaty (cf. Weiler 1999 for an interesting critique).
See Howe 1995 for discussion of these points.
See Leicester 1996; Smith 1991.
Many economists, including the Governor of the Bank of England, Eddie George (1995), have warned about the potential for international conflict inherent in EMU (Connolly 1995; Feldstein 1997).
The Adonnino Report’s recommendations also covered various topics not strictly confined to the cultural domain, including the simplification of border-crossing formalities, minting a European coinage, increasing duty-free allowances, providing reciprocal recognition of equivalent diplomas and professional qualifications, and giving rights to those living abroad to participate in local and European elections in their country of residence.
Forum, 3/89, p.8, cited in Löken 1992: 6.
For anthropological commentaries on definitions and uses of the culture concept see Cohen 1982; Wright 1998.
Cited in Pieterse 1991: 3.
Cf. Hobsbawm and Ranger 1983.
Cited in Morley and Robins 1990: 3.
Berlusconi’s unguarded remarks were made in Berlin on September 26 during a joint press conference with the German Chancellor, Gerhard Schörder.
As Monnet (1976) wrote: ‘un nouveau type d’homme [qui] était en train de naître dans les institutions de Luxembourg comme dans un laboratoire .. c’était l’esprit européen qui était le fruit du travail en commun’ , cited in Spence 1994: 63.
This was subsequently enshrined in Article 9 of the original European Coal and Steel Community Treaty.
See Fontaine 1991 and Attali 1992 for illustrations of these views.
Among those that are, see in particular Cini 1996, Edwards and Spence 1997 and Page 1997.
Williamson, D. 1994, ‘The looking glass view of Europe’ , Financial Times, 15 December.
Delors’ role in promoting political patronage is well documented by Ross _1995 Grant 1994 and Page 1997.
Financial Times 17 March 1999: 2..
Financial Times 17 March 1999 Bremner and Bell Times 17 March 1999: 5.
This was confirmed in a recent study by Marion McDonald commissioned by the Commission’s own Think Tank, the Cellule de Prospective.
LESC Bulletin May 1999: 1.
This is corroborated by the Economist whose Paris correspondent reports that: ‘As far as most of the French are concerned, the EU commissioner [Cresson] did little wrong by giving a job to her dentist and that those lucky enough to win a slice of power would be considered mean not to help friends and relatives’ . Economist, 20 March 20 1999: 46.
There is a large body of anthropological literature on patronage and clientelism and ‘Mediterranean values’ that makes precisely this point. My view is that this is a simplistic and misleading stereotype. Indeed, two of the countries where nepotism and cronyism are particularly rife - France and Belgium - can hardly be classified as ‘Southern’ , and even virtuous Germany has been wracked by corruption scandals. However, I accept the proposition that where cultures meet there is often a ‘critical lack of fit between category systems’ and this may exacerbate the problem of divided accountability. There is plenty of anecdotal evidence to suggest that concepts of probity and honesty in public affairs differ between northern Protestant and southern Catholic countries (e.g. several directors of personnel lamented the absence of a coherent human resources strategy and the virtual impossibility of introducing systems of ‘performance appraisal’).
The case of Bernard Connolly, author of The Rotten Heart of Europe, is also germane to this debate.
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