The euro and the European demos: Money and community beyond the nation-state


Money represents a form of trust among the members of a community. They share a belief that certain symbolic tokens constitute real value. Sceptics frequently point out that the euro area does not have the characteristics of a community. In particular they view the euro as money without a demos. According to this sceptical view, then, the euro is backed by an insufficient level of solidarity and suffers from a deficit of legitimacy. This article identifies the main flaws and contradictions of the no-demos theory. Most importantly, no-demos theory suffers from the fundamental misconception that political community and democracy are possible only in the nation-state. This conceptualisation of community represents a zero-sum understanding of community that cannot capture the dynamic interaction of multiple communities as well as complex and overlapping identities. In addition, no-demos theory is trapped in an internal contradiction. In order for democracy to be possible among the members of a community, that membership in the community is given and rests on pre-democratic criteria. I argue in this article that we need to accept the notion of disaggregated communities and should drop the concept of a unified and fully sovereign demos altogether. Moreover, under conditions in which the gap between sovereignty and authority continues to grow, European Monetary Union is actually a more democratic form of governance than the pre-Maastricht monetary regime in Europe. © 2010 University of Kent.

Publication Title

Global Society