The Habsburg Empire looked a lot like the European Union, Caroline de Gruyter argues. Although it was a state, which the EU of course is not, it was a complex international construction aiming to bring security and prosperity to many nations.
The Habsburgs did this by eliminating borders and pumping money around. In the Empire many languages were spoken. It had a well-functioning internal market and one currency. Moreover, the Habsburgs hated warfare and preferred relying on the rule of law and an advanced bureaucracy instead. Their favorite foreign policy tactic was to gain time and delay conflict. By constraining big nations, the Empire protected smaller nations: they felt safe inside. And last but not least, the cynicism and sarcasm of the Habsburg intelligentsia easily matched that of the elites in the EU.
The Visions of Europe lecture series brings prominent European policy makers and academics to Amsterdam to address urgent European and global issues.
About the speaker
Caroline de Gruyter, a Europe correspondent for NRC Handelsblad, lived in the old Imperial capital Vienna for four years. She was struck by the many remnants, habits and even policies of Habsburg that are still perceptible in the city today. In a forthcoming book she will explore the parallels and differences with the EU. Will the EU collapse, like Habsburg did after World War I? Is the EU also an Empire, projecting its power outside its borders? Which lessons can we learn from the Habsburgs? Caroline de Gruyter is also a regular contributor to Carnegie Europe and a member of the European Council on Foreign Relations. She has covered Europe for the past 20 years - not only from Brussels and Vienna but also from Geneva and Oslo, outside the EU.
Luiza Bialasiewicz (moderator) is a political geographer and Professor of European Governance at the University of Amsterdam. She is the co-director of the Amsterdam Centre for European Studies (ACES).
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