The EU - An Ungovernable Governing Project?

Pernille Rendbæk Madsen & Eline Kirstine Munksgaard Sørensen

Student thesis: Master thesis


Since the beginning of the 21st century, The European Union has experienced numerous crisis, ranging from internal disputes and economic depressions to most recently a crisis of external migration. Euroscepticism reached its peak in the wake of the great migration, eventually resulting in Great Britain exiting the Union, despite it being characterized as the most successful example of an international institutionalized political cooperation between regional nation states. Nevertheless, the many crises have undoubtedly added fuel to the Eurosceptical flame, making this thesis wonder whether Great Britain is the first exit out of many; from Brexit to a Danish Dexit? In the aftermath of what is deemed a century of European crises, this thesis is an attempt at answering: How has the governmental rationality of the EU developed since its establishment, and what are the related challenges for the EU’s governing of its member states? The thesis statement is examined in light of constructivism with Michel Foucault’s conceptual framework. Based on Foucault’s concepts of genealogy and the dispositive, the analysis is a socio-historical approach, examining four periods of historical crises in which the governmental rationality of the Union is deduced in order to understand whether the many challenges are due to a change of governmental rationality. The analysis draws the conclusion that throughout the four crises, the Union has continuously experienced difficulty in governing on account of internal division. The notion of the liberal paradox is embraced to unearth the underlying interests of the members that affect the Union; the oxymoron between capitalistic and nationalistic interests. Thus, a unified governmental rationality is difficult to infer, however, on a general level it appears to be constructed in the tension field between the dispositives; law, discipline and security with security as the guiding purpose, supplemented by disciplining technologies with legal authority. Based on Foucault’s understanding of power and concept governmentality, the discussion addresses the Union’s difficulty of governing in modern society. The conclusion is that The Union does not possess a natural position of power as it is incapable of ascribing itself as a centre of power in modern society, problematizing whether The European Union since its establishment has been an ungovernable governing project.

EducationsMSocSc in Political Communication and Managment, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2018
Number of pages108
SupervisorsKaspar Villadsen