Populist Neoliberalism in Continental Europe

When: 03 May 2021, 14:15-15:30
Where: Zoom
Speaker: Nicolas Jabko

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This chapter challenges the widespread scholarly view that the rising populism of the 2010s decade in continental Europe was a reaction against the EU’s technocratic neoliberalism. Instead, it argues that Europe’s turn to austerity in the 2010s had itself a distinctly populist flavor. Core EU member states’ governments made the case that, by forcing cuts in public expenditures and deflationary policies, they were defending their people against the corruption and the deviant economic behavior of peripheral states. In addition, austerity was increasingly questioned, and even resisted, by EU technocrats. The European Central Bank, in particular, became an activist body, in tacit if not in overt opposition to fiscal retrenchment. Rather than utilizing their insulation from politics to single-mindedly pursue unpopular neoliberal policies in the periphery, EU technocrats increasingly utilized it to push back against fiscally conservative policies that had become popular in core Eurozone states.