The Politics of Southern Europe: Integration into the European Union

The Politics of Southern Europe: Integration into the European Union

The Politics of Southern Europe: Integration into the European Union

The Politics of Southern Europe: Integration into the European Union

Excerpt

For many years I have taught a course called “Politics of Southern Europe.” Over time, my accumulated comparative research of Portugal, Spain, Italy, and Greece has grown immensely, so I decided to bring to paper what has been a unique success story in terms of development toward a qualitative democracy. The road toward democracy, always difficult, was different in all countries studied in this book, but they all experienced similar prob- lems and challenges. The main challenge they had to face was integration into what is now commonly called European Union politics. It means that the European Union is bringing all the different European regions (from the Nordic countries to southern Europe) together, and creating a new light polity with its own European public space. This is a long-term process that may now be accelerated due to the introduction of the Euro as palpable currency on January 1, 2002.

In this book, I look at the political development of the past two decades, particularly the 1990s, in the four main southern European member-states. I was interested in studying the impact of the European Union on the southern European political systems. This so-called Euro- peanization of southern European politics also meant integration into European Union politics through the presidencies of the Council of the European Union and several intergovernmental conferences. Moreover, southern Europe was at the forefront in shaping the politics of the Mediterranean by creating new initiatives such as the Euro-Mediterra- nean partnership.

The book intends to combine both a comparative as well as a cultural approach that tries to be sensitive to the differences of the four countries studied here.

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