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On Building the American and the European Empires


  • Josep M. Colomer


The processes of building the United States of America (USA) during the nineteenth century and the European Union (EU) since mid-twentieth century are among the major claims for the possibility of a vast, ‘imperial’-size political unit based on democratic principles. The crucial period for the consolidation of the USA was between the Civil War and the First World War, when it established clear territorial limits and completed its internal institutionalization as a federal democratic union. While the EU has achieved higher levels of economic integration on some issues than the USA did one hundred years ago, it still recognizes a number of additional candidates to become member-states and has not attained a stable constitutional framework. As it was the case for the USA about a century ago, for the current European Union putting an end to the process of territorial expansion and fixing neat external frontiers seems to be a necessary condition to achieve internal institutional stability and robust federal formulas.

Suggested Citation

  • Josep M. Colomer, 2010. "On Building the American and the European Empires," LEQS – LSE 'Europe in Question' Discussion Paper Series 06, European Institute, LSE.
  • Handle: RePEc:eiq:eileqs:06

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Algaba, E. & Bilbao, J.M. & Fernandez, J.R., 2007. "The distribution of power in the European Constitution," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 176(3), pages 1752-1766, February.
    2. Josep M. Colomer, 2000. "How political parties, rather than member-states, are building the European Union," Economics Working Papers 489, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
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    JEL classification:

    • F1 - International Economics - - Trade
    • F33 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - International Monetary Arrangements and Institutions
    • F4 - International Economics - - Macroeconomic Aspects of International Trade and Finance

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