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Accounting for centralisation in the European Union : Niskanen, Monnet or Thatcher?

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  • SALMON, Pierre

    () (LATEC - Université de Bourgogne)

Abstract

Centralisation at the level of the European Union takes the form, not so much of increased staff or budget, but of enlarged responsibilities and an increased share in regulation. The paper first reviews possible explanations of that trend that are based on a view of bureaucracy inspired by, or closely related, to William Niskanen's. It then turns to a discussion of the extent to which any characteristic of the EU machinery can develop without the acquiescence or agency of a majority of the member-state governments, and of the discussion of whether centralisation as a process is not simply a way to implement, in the manner suggested by Jean Monnet, the "ever closer union" that was - and, to a degree, still is - the underlying rationale for the European construction project. A third set of causes of centralisation can be found, it is claimed in the paper, in the objectives of setting a "level-playing field" and "completing the single market" that were adopted, with the backing of Margaret Thatcher, in the Single Act. It is argued that a policy which pursues the objectives of eliminating all kinds of fragmentation of the single market and of distortion of competition among firms implies, under modern conditions, a massive transfer of responsibilities in the area of regulation and policy-making from the level of the member states to that of the Union. Finally, the paper discusses the hierarchical relationship between these three sets of causes of centralisation.

Suggested Citation

  • SALMON, Pierre, 2002. "Accounting for centralisation in the European Union : Niskanen, Monnet or Thatcher?," LATEC - Document de travail - Economie (1991-2003) 2002-05, LATEC, Laboratoire d'Analyse et des Techniques EConomiques, CNRS UMR 5118, Université de Bourgogne.
  • Handle: RePEc:lat:lateco:2002-05
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Jean-Michel Josselin & Alain Marciano, 2000. "Displacing your Principal. Two Historical Case Studies of Some Interest for the Constitutional Future of Europe," European Journal of Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 10(3), pages 217-233, November.
    2. Mark A. Pollack, 2000. "The End of Creeping Competence? EU Policy-Making Since Maastricht," Journal of Common Market Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 38(3), pages 519-538, September.
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    7. Torsten Persson & Gerard Roland & Guido Tabellini, "undated". "The Theory of Fiscal Federalism: What Does it Mean for Europe?," Working Papers 101, IGIER (Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research), Bocconi University.
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    9. Howitt, Peter & Wintrobe, Ronald, 1995. "The political economy of inaction," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 56(3), pages 329-353, March.
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    Cited by:

    1. SALMON, Pierre, 2003. "Assigning powers in the European Union in the light of yardstick competition among governments," LEG - Document de travail - Economie 2003-03, LEG, Laboratoire d'Economie et de Gestion, CNRS, Université de Bourgogne.
    2. Pierre Salmon, 2003. "The Assignment of Powers in an Open-ended European Union," CESifo Working Paper Series 993, CESifo Group Munich.
    3. Jean-Michel Josselin & Alain Marciano, 2007. "How the court made a federation of the EU," The Review of International Organizations, Springer, vol. 2(1), pages 59-75, March.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    European Union; bureaucracy; regulation; federalism;

    JEL classification:

    • D73 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Bureaucracy; Administrative Processes in Public Organizations; Corruption
    • F15 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Economic Integration
    • H77 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - Intergovernmental Relations; Federalism

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