Notes on European political culture




Europe’s new security providers

Here is a riddle. Who or what authority is it that will assure or not assure the sovereignty of Greece and by consequence a number of other European member states in the months and years to come?

Well, we can safely say that it will not be President Karolos Papoulias, the current Greek government, or the national Parliament. No, it is not the European Commission or the European Council, at least not directly. If you guessed the new Franco-German Eurozone alliance, you would be getting warmer, but still be wrong. The International Monetary Fund or the World Bank? Close, but no.

The key to the national sovereignty of Greece, and perhaps we might even say the key to an emerging notion of national sovereignty all together is Standard and Poors.

Standard and Poors Corporation is of course not a public authority or agency. It’s not even a private agency with any kind of formal link to public or state institutions. It has not legally binding effect on sovereignty or state legitimacy. Standard and Poors is a private company, a subsidiary of McGrawl-Hill, specializing in financial analysis and consultancy. It is a credit rating agency, one of many, though perhaps the most prominent. It turns its profit by providing an information service with the aim of helping clients navigate a complex financial system in an era of fast-moving information exchange. Its speciality is as a credit rater. It issues ratings for the debt of both private corporations and public entities (like the state of Greece). It is list with other credit rating agencies by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Standard and Poors, has no ideology, no political line, no principled political leaning. It is firm that provides analysis of data, in a more or less instrumental, more or less disinterested way. And yet its judgment in the Greek-Eurozone crisis has proved to be the guiding measure of the robustness of a nation-state and the stability of the very concept of sovereignty. The post-national theme of European construction takes a very peculiar, though perhaps not totally unexpected turn.

Interestingly, political journalism has begun to reflect this change. It is more often experts in financial security who are called upon to comment upon the national (and European) security of Europe. Financial security advisors are the new security experts of our time, security providers for the new threat against Europe.

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