Economic slowdowns have historically – almost without exception – led to greater protectionism as each country faces demands from its electorate to shield them from the rising storm of global financial turbulence. This can certainly be applied to the history of European integration; the 1970s and 80s saw a halt to further integration, as well as protectionism…
For European integration itself, the 1970s and early 1980s were termed the ‘doldrum years’, as they saw virtually no new advances in integration during this time. Nevertheless, it still saw the accession of the UK, Denmark and Ireland in 1973, followed by Greece in 1981 and Spain and Portugal in 1986. This suggests that, while deeper integration is off the cards, a widening of the Union is a still a possibility.
This therefore raises two questions: firstly, does a nasty economic downturn really preclude deeper integration? And secondly, should we look forward to another enlargement in the next couple of years?
Nice, handy overview for anyone wanting to catch up.