Securitizing the Euro? Crisis Rhetoric between Silence and Dramatization

  • Abstract:
    In 2011, the euro debt crisis intensified on a rapid scale. Numerous emergency measures were adopted in order to maintain stability and to avoid a collapse of the single currency. Among these measures were ad-hoc EU summit decisions and rescue packages, unprecedented actions by the European Central Bank (ECB) to ease government bond interest rates of indebted crisis states, the disempowerment of parliaments, austerity programs and fiscal surveillance measures. This paper strives to explore how the above named emergency measures could be adopted so quickly and how they were justified by EU- and national actors. To answer the research question, the discourse directed to a German audience is analyzed by using the Securitization-model, developed by the so-called Copenhagen School. By applying the model to an issue with a supranational referent object – the euro or the Economic Monetary Union (EMU), respectively – the study delivers an important advancement of the theory. Included in this paper are the Federal government of Germany and the EU as key groups of actors. The analysis reveals whether the issue of the euro debt crisis is depicted in terms of a security issue. The results of the study are mixed. It is demonstrated that some figures, most prominently José Manuel Barroso and Angela Merkel, performed speech acts apt to securitize the euro. Other actors, however, did not proceed as clearly in this regard. The analysis is followed by a discussion of the results, addressing questions about the applicability of the theory in this particular field and the scope of action provided to leaders by securitization of the debt crisis.