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Europe, in between a place and a non-place. A commentary by Romano Ferrari Zumbini

Ever since the Second World War we have been observing, on the one hand, the emergence of a more and more inclusive European building of the economic and social well-being, as if to demonstrate a maturity in accepting those who are different; On the other hand, we have been witnessing a progressive self-forgetfulness, meaning the neglecting of that shared set of values which, over centuries (and at the cost of some bloody conflicts), have come to define European culture.

This seems to have resulted in an articulated integration but, in a paradoxical way, devoid of a solid foundation of values, which has translated into a servile politics on economic categories and in an institutional and regulatory building characterized by complexities and overlaps that make the UE impersonal and bureaucracy-prone (and therefore weak when faced with recent populist drifts).

A striking example of this lies in the recent European ban on bank rescues (the so-called bail-in), which on one side allows the intervention of a deposit guarantee fund to avoid any disruption and, on the other identifies that it’s the intervention itself, in contrast, causing the type of disruption that end up involving those private creditors that would be saved by the public hand. Not to forget that legislation that, on the one hand, tends to give investors the “blame” for carrying out risky operations while pushing brokers, on the other, to capitalize more and more through forms of saving that favor the equity of the institute at the expense of a low level of risk for subscribers. A framework that, by the way, could originate conflicts with principles (such as the right to property) that by now are codified in the European legislative web (Human Rights Charter, Nice Charter).

The aforementioned problem could be solved by making the most of the “no creditor worse off” principle, which states that creditors’ treatment must not be in any way worsened compared to the one they would have received in the event the bank had been subject, in lieu of a rescue, to normal insolvency proceedings. However, this presumes, from a principled point of view, some accountability that requires a clear self-identity.

This is the question to be asked, then, and it’s one of immediate concern: is Europe at risk of turning from a “place” into a “no place” where the regulatory machinery goes on without controls and without considering by what options the right of initiative is maturing? In order to follow a positive path, however, it will be necessary to overcome the nihilism – guessed by Nietzsche – originating from the contrast between the market (not only understood as the power of money, but also as a suffocating realm of technology) and God (not just as a faith, but as a table of shared values, meaning as a “place” in contrast to “no place”).