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Widening and Deepening: Reforming the European Union

Author

Listed:
  • Erik Berglof
  • Mike Burkart
  • Guido Friebel
  • Elena Paltseva

Abstract

This short paper analyses the tension between "widening" and "deepening" of organizations such as the European Union. Members have the same consumption benefit of reform but weak and strong members differ in their cost of exerting reform efforts. As decisions are taken by unanimity, the reform level is determined by the weakest member. However, strong members can coerce weak members to exert more effort by threatening to form a "club-in-the-club". Widening (bringing in additional members into the Union) can have different effects on deepening (more reform effort). When a new member is stronger than the weakest incumbent member, deepening and widening are complements, that is, the Union-wide reform efforts increase. When a new member is weaker, deepening and widening can be substitutes, and the reform efforts in the Union may fall. Our analysis helps to understand the history of the EU treaties, in particular the differences between enlargement waves such as the Northern vs. the Eastern Enlargement. It also rationalizes the general move from unanimity voting to different types of majority.
(This abstract was borrowed from another version of this item.)

Suggested Citation

  • Erik Berglof & Mike Burkart & Guido Friebel & Elena Paltseva, 2008. "Widening and Deepening: Reforming the European Union," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(2), pages 133-137, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:98:y:2008:i:2:p:133-37
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.98.2.133
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Klaus Wallner & Mike Burkart, 2000. "Club Enlargement: Early Versus Late Admittance," FMG Discussion Papers dp359, Financial Markets Group.
    2. Vislie, Jon, 1994. "Efficiency and equilibria in complementary teams," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 23(1), pages 83-91, January.
    3. Bard Harstad, 2006. "Flexible Integration? Mandatory and Minimum Participation Rules," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 108(4), pages 683-702, December.
    4. Berglöf, Erik & Burkart, Mike & Friebel, Guido & Paltseva, Elena, 2012. "Club-in-the-club: Reform under unanimity," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 40(3), pages 492-507.
    5. Avinash Dixit, 2003. "Clubs with Entrapment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(5), pages 1824-1829, December.
    6. Bordignon, Massimo & Brusco, Sandro, 2001. "Optimal secession rules," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 45(10), pages 1811-1834, December.
    7. Patrick Legros & Steven A. Matthews, 1993. "Efficient and Nearly-Efficient Partnerships," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 60(3), pages 599-611.
    8. Hausken, Kjell & Mattli, Walter & Plümper, Thomas, 2006. "Widening versus Deepening of International Unions," MPRA Paper 75882, University Library of Munich, Germany.
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    Cited by:

    1. Schönfelder, Nina & Wagner, Helmut, 2015. "The impact of European integration on institutional development," MPRA Paper 63392, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. Oliver Lorz & Gerald Willmann, 2013. "Size versus scope: on the trade-off facing economic unions," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 20(2), pages 247-267, April.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D23 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Organizational Behavior; Transaction Costs; Property Rights
    • F15 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Economic Integration

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