The Choice for Europe since Maastricht – Research Program

Research Questions

Which member states pushed for monetary, economic and fiscal integration, and why? What kind of economic and political integration model was advocated, and by which member state? How and to what extent did political economy interests drive member states’ preferences? How did international pressure and constitutional constraints influence governments’ preference formation? What are we to expect for future integration, regarding the EMU and the EU in general? Are the member states’ preferences poised for further deepening and supranational governance, or rather for intergovernmental coordination with the involvement of the Commission, the European Court of Justice and the European Central Bank? Finally, do they still aim at the principle of inclusiveness, or is this principle rather substituted by a strategy of differentiated integration?

Research strategy

For studying these questions, our project proposes to investigate member states governments’ stances o economic and fiscal integration issues – such as common economic governance proposals, fiscal surveillance measures, or a permanent fiscal transfer system. To this end, we aim to conduct approximately 165 semi-structured interviews with decision makers in all member states and EU organs and to analyze primary and secondary sources on intergovernmental negotiations. Our core argument builds on the comparative political economy literature as well as liberal intergovernmentalism and claims that domestic political, economic and fiscal characteristics explain member states governments’ preferences for different fiscal and economic integration proposals. 
For the empirical investigation, we propose a mixed method research strategy that builds on three consecutive steps. First, we analyze intergovernmental negotiations on fiscal and economic integration and identify the positions of the member states’ governments. Second, we quantitatively evaluate to what extent the member states’ positions reflect domestic political, economic and fiscal characteristics. Finally, we enrich the quantitative analysis with case studies for a more nuanced understanding of the causal chain from domestic economic, fiscal and political characteristics to governments’ preferences. 
The final part of the project will provide a detailed political feasibility analysis, by which we discuss future economic and fiscal integration scenarios and assess their likelihood based on the project’s findings. This analysis will be complemented by a full-fledged legal study that investigates the legal context on the EU level, as well as in all member states. This will be of particular importance because legal questions must be taken into account for the successful implementation of any economic and fiscal integration proposals. 

Bild Horizon 2020