Working Paper 5/2021

Ryner, M. (2021). Passive Revolution/Silent Revolution: Europe’s Recovery Plan, the Green Deal, and the German Question. Helsinki Centre for Global Political Economy Working Paper, 05/2021

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Abstract: Is the EU Recovery Plan a temporary measure or does it mark a more long-term change in EU economic policy? Does it, along with the European Green Deal (EGD), break with disciplinary neoliberal orthodoxy? By considering the changing conditions of the political economy of Germany and the terms under which it exercises regional leadership, this paper argues that the causes behind the Recovery Plan and the EGD have longer term sources, but in substantive terms, it does not break with disciplinary neoliberalism. As such, it can be understood in terms of a Gramscian passive revolution. At the same time, these measures are profoundly transforming the form of EU economic governance in contradictory and even paradoxical ways. Though very much in line with an increasingly authoritarian neoliberalism, this change of form makes it increasingly difficult to depoliticize neoliberalism in the EU and to represent it as the natural order of things that simply must be accepted. This opens EU economic governance up for public contestation. But at the same time, it does so in a way that fragments European publicity into distinct national spheres. Social forces working for a more genuine socio-ecological transformation need to develop a better understanding of these contradictory developments of institutional form.

Keywords: European Recovery Plan, European Green Deal, Economic and Monetary Union, neoliberalism, Germany