Thursday, May 9, 2013

The EU Treaties and the fiscal crisis

If you've started reading Pinder (as you should be doing!) you'll notice how much of the history and the current politics of the EU revolve around different treaties and debates about how to expand or change treaties (or even forge new ones).  The EU is, at its core, a rule-based institution grounded in a series of treaties that all of the member states have ratified.  The current economic and fiscal crisis in Europe has once again brought the EU treaties into the spotlight, namely though the persistent question of whether adequate reforms for "economic governance" (a key term in EU parlance) in the Union can be made within the current treaty framework, or whether a new treaty is needed.

Here is a recent news article from EU Observer that will help bring you up to speed on this debate, which will certainly be something that folks in EU politics/policy circles will be discussing once you get to Brussels:

What kind of institutional and political dynamics strike you as important as you read this article and read about the economic and fiscal crisis more generally?  Where does authority lay on these types of questions in the EU?


  1. One of the institutional dynamics that struck me as important in the article was the thought of creating a eurozone-only budget along with an eurozone economics minister through a treaty change - a proposal made by the German minister. Such a step, I think, is perceived to be a remedy to the problems associated with the set-up of currency but also another building block to centralizing Europe. I also found it interesting that the article really just focused on the political dynamics of two countries: Germany and France. Disagreement between the two countries on how to resolve the current issue of creating a banking union was highlight within the article but emphasis was also placed upon the two countries wanting, and willing, to work something out (particularly with Germany softening its stance on a treaty change). Obviously, it appears that France is still very influential in the EU, much like it was before its creation. However, Germany appears to play a strong role within the EU as well.

  2. Good comments, Emily! The idea of a Eurozone-only budget actually hearkens back to debates of the 90s about a "two-speed Europe" (a core of highly integrated states along with others more loosely affiliated with the EU). Eventually Europe decided that such a strategy was not compatible with the idea of uniting Europe (and was also a bureaucratic nightmare to contemplate)...but the debate is now back!

    It is also great that you picked up on the Franco-German dynamic that runs through the article and has been at the core of the current debate. It has long been said that nothing gets done in Europe unless France and Germany agree (this links back to the original Schuman Declaration!). Many have watched with curiosity as the economic crisis also seems to have re-started the "Franco-German motor" that often drives Europe and the EU forward in times of crisis.