The Choice for Europe since Maastricht: Member States’ Preferences for Economic and Fiscal Integration

The Eurozone crisis corroborated the warnings of economists that weak economic policy coordination and loose fiscal oversight are insufficient to stabilise the monetary union. To prevent a recurrence of the crisis, economists, political actors and the “Blueprint” of the European Commission are asking for the construction of a deep and genuine economic and monetary union with a reinforced governance architecture – beyond the mechanisms adopted in the last few years. Many models of a fiscal union have been proposed and are discussed. What is missing are not ideas and economic analysis on efficient stabilising measures, but the political consensus among member states’ governments for a specific integration path. Therefore, this political science project analyses the politics of economic and fiscal integration, that is, the conflict structure among member states. To this end, we aim to study the preferences of member states’ governments’ for different models of a fiscal union. Our theoretical framework builds on the comparative political economy literature and liberal intergovernmentalism and argues that domestic economic, fiscal and political factors explain member states’ preferences. To empirically study whether, and if so, the extent to which governments’ preferences are shaped by economic, fiscal and political determinants, we propose to conduct 165 semi-structured interviews with decision makers in all member states. The interview data will be analysed with a mixed-method strategy – including quantitative factor analysis as well as qualitative case studies. We expect that the theoretical and empirical findings of the project will provide guidance for the successful implementation of a feasible reform of the governance architecture of the EU to the effective stabilisation of the economy. In addition to the political feasibility analysis, we aim to study the legal context of potential fiscal and economic integration scenarios. The project is a Horizon 2020 project in which partner universities from 8 different European countries are involved. Project duration: 01/06/2105-31/05/2019 Project coordination (SCEUS, Political Science): Prof. Dr. Sonja Puntscher Riekmann, Prof. Dr. Fabio Wasserfallen