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Please join the East Central European Center at the Harriman Institute for a talk with Laszlo Bruszt, István Deák Visiting Professor of East Central European Studies.
Continuing support in the EU for de-democratization processes in Hungary brings to light two realities about the European Union. First, the EU has relatively little power to protect the non-economic rights of the bloc's citizens, and second, leading European politicians lack the will to stop autocrats like Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán. After the British Conservative Party’s catastrophic attempt to reclaim “sovereignty” from the EU through Brexit, and the defeat of softer “sovereigntist” parties in the European Parliament election in May 2019, it seemed to many that only the scattered populist and illiberal forces of Europe are still flying the sovereigntist flag. Bruszt argues that reports of the death of the sovereigntist cause have been greatly exaggerated, and its various versions still dominate the EU mainstream. For European conservatives, most of whom are clustered within the EPP, any move toward political federalism represents a slippery slope to a “transfer union.” They fear that EU member states, which already share sovereignty in economic matters, may also be asked to share the risks of maintaining a European market of 500 million people. Orbán’s attacks on “Brussels” might be a nuisance, but his hostility to a “United States of Europe” helps to revitalize the sovereigntist cause and fortify European conservatives’ dominant position.
Laszlo Bruszt is a Professor of Sociology at the Central European University, Budapest, and currently holds the István Deák Visiting Professorship at Columbia University. Between 2004 and 2016 he taught at the European University Institute in Florence, Italy. His more recent studies deal with the politics of economic integration of the eastern and southern peripheries of Europe. His recent publications include “Making states for the single market: European integration and the reshaping of economic states in the southern and eastern peripheries of Europe” West European Politics; “Varieties of Dis-embedded Liberalism - EU Integration Strategies in the Eastern Peripheries of Europe” in Journal of European Public Policy” and Leveling the Playing Field – Transnational Regulatory Integration and Development (Oxford University Press, co-edited with McDermott, G.). He co-edited a special issue “Manufacturing development - How transnational market integration shapes opportunities and developmental capacities in Europe's three peripheries” forthcoming at the Review of International Political Economy.