In the recent history of Europe, from Jean Monnet's plan for a European Coal and Steel Community in to today's European Union, one pattern seems clear: where economic integration leads, political integration will eventually follow. EMU, it is argued, will continue this trend-except on a far bigger scale. The euro will be more visible and have a more direct public impact than any previous EU economic policy. The constraints that EMU imposes on national economic policy are also unparalleled.
A common monetary policy, coupled with strict limits to government borrowing, seems to strike at the heart of national economic sovereignty.
Furthermore, the euro will generate an unprecedented sense of winners and losers: an interest rate suitable for Belgium could be punitive for Portugal, whilst differences in the standard of living between the two countries will be all the more transparent. These, argue EMU's critics, are the ingredients of political union: just as national currencies need state institutions to maintain them, so by extension, will EMU require an EU state system. Politically sensitive decisions on interest rates will demand a system of representative government akin to that of the European nation state.
Co-ordination of budgetary positions within the euro zone will require an authoritative, democratic mandate for the EU.
And the politics of brokerage between EMU's winners and losers will require financial transfers far in excess of the EU's current budget. Thus the sheer scale of economic integration by EMU will require an equally radical political union of Europe.
Central Europe towards Monetary Union: Macroeconomic Underpinnings and Financial Reputation
This argument is fallacious. A single currency neither makes, nor requires a single state. The countries of western Europe have very similar economic profiles and highly integrated economies. National economies in the euro zone will therefore respond to external shocks in much the same way. Differences in Europe's economic performance will remain most pronounced at the local and regional levels -where production is specialised.
Such imbalances can continue to be dealt with through fiscal transfers within member states.
But even if budgetary transfers did increase under EMU, would this constitute closer political union? Last year, Britain paid more transfers to former Soviet bloc countries through Phare, Tacis and the Know-How Fund, than it paid, on balance, to the EU-yet no one claims that Britain is more politically integrated with Eastern Europe than with Western Europe. Political integration is defined by the nature of the political system in which the transfers are made and the strength of the political interests underpinning them-not by the transfer itself.
In other words, policies do not make polities. A polity-the range of political institutions and allegiances defining a political community-is the product of collective identities and aspirations. The European polity, such as it is, has arisen from the common experience of war, from an ill-defined European culture and from shared objectives of peace and prosperity.
EU policies, no matter how important, have little direct impact at this level.
Exchange Rate Economics - Ronald MacDonald - Bok () | Bokus
Policies reflect the political systems from which they originate. Therefore monetary union reflects the features of the EU political system that designed it.
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