While there is some optimistic judgement over the end of the 2008 financial and economic crisis – not to mention those voices advocating that the Great Recession was not really so great (Van Ours, 2015) –, there is a certain level of uncertainty encoded into the fragile recovery. If for no other reason than the European integration seems to suffering from non-convergence in many aspects between the core and the periphery member states (e.g. in terms of gross domestic products in PPS per capita, labour productivity etc, see Eurostat statistics).
Since the gloomy threat of impoverishment can really undermine social and thus political stability, taking the issue of poverty and social exclusion into account is of paramount importance when it comes to envisaging outlooks. Chart 1 indicates that the share of people at risk of poverty or social exclusion has been dynamically increasing in the periphery countries since the tornado of 2008 squeezed the Old Lady’s skirt, and infiltrated into the European continent. It means that not only the medium and future term expectations remain melancholic, but the day-to-day experiences also confirm the huge amount of uncertainties.
Chart 1. Share of people at risk of poverty or social exclusion (Europe 2020 Strategy) (%)
Note: Core countries are as follows: Belgium, Germany, France, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom. Periphery countries are: Greece, Ireland, Spain and Portugal. Source: own compilation.
The dynamic pattern of impoverishment, the growing share of people at risk of poverty in the periphery hints upon the wither inclusiveness of their growth. Since social learning via innovations and imitations can be seen as a central driving force of progress, that of productivity and thus that of growth; cultivating an innovation ecosystem is a must in these countries. This approach embraces the role of innovative public sector with a more collaborative manner to dampen the democratic deficit observable in these countries too (e.g. a certain manifestation of that is the fact that, according to the Observatório da Emigração (2014), 100,000 people left Portugal annually between 2009 and 2014).
A new book was recently published in the spirit of getting a clearer picture about the core-periphery divide, the EU cleavage. The book analyses the emerging centre-periphery divisions within the European Union which result from the unprecedented conditions created by the 2008-09 global financial crisis and the subsequent Eurozone sovereign debt crisis. The multiple layers of policy coordination which emerged in response to the crisis have initiated a process by which the EU is increasingly divided in terms of the level of vertical integration between the Eurozone core group and differentiated peripheries amongst the outsiders. At the same time the sovereign debt crisis has created a periphery of predominantly Southern European countries within the Eurozone that became dependent on external financial support from the other member states. The contributions in this book critically examine various aspects of the emerging internal post-crisis constellation of the EU. The main focus lies on national and supranational governance issues, national dynamics and dynamics in the Eurozone core as well as in the periphery.
This book was originally published as a special issue of Perspectives on European Politics and Society. For a full picture of the book, visit the following website.