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

  • SALMON, Pierre


    (LATEC - Université de Bourgogne)

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.

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Paper provided by LATEC, Laboratoire d'Analyse et des Techniques EConomiques, CNRS UMR 5118, Université de Bourgogne in its series LATEC - Document de travail - Economie (1991-2003) with number 2002-05.

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Length: 27 pages
Date of creation: Jun 2002
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:lat:lateco:2002-05
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  1. Van den Bergh, Roger, 2000. "Towards an Institutional Legal Framework for Regulatory Competition in Europe," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 53(4), pages 435-66.
  2. Alesina, Alberto & Wacziarg, Romain, 1999. "Is Europe going too far?," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 51(1), pages 1-42, December.
  3. SALMON, Pierre, 1987. "Decentralization as an incentive scheme," Institut des Mathématiques Economiques – Document de travail de l’I.M.E. (1974-1993) 98, Institut des Mathématiques Economiques. LATEC, Laboratoire d'Analyse et des Techniques EConomiques, CNRS, Université de Bourgogne.
  4. Vaubel, Roland, 1994. " The Political Economy of Centralization and the European Community," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 81(1-2), pages 151-90, October.
  5. Robert P. Inman & Daniel L. Rubinfeld, 1998. "Subsidiarity and the European Union," NBER Working Papers 6556, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. SALMON, Pierre, 1993. "Nations Conspiring against Themselves : an Interpretation of European Integration," LATEC - Document de travail - Economie (1991-2003) 1993-02, LATEC, Laboratoire d'Analyse et des Techniques EConomiques, CNRS UMR 5118, Université de Bourgogne.
  7. Salmon, Pierre, 2001. "Thinking about Something Else: A Rationality-Compatible Mechanism with Macroscopic Consequences," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 54(2-3), pages 453-64.
  8. Torsten Persson & Gerard Roland & Guido Tabellini, . "The Theory of Fiscal Federalism: What Does it Mean for Europe?," Working Papers 101, IGIER (Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research), Bocconi University.
  9. Timothy Besley & Paul Seabright, 1999. "The effects and policy implications of state aids to industry: an economic analysis," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 14(28), pages 13-53, 04.
  10. Oates, Wallace E., 2001. "Fiscal competition and European Union: contrasting perspectives," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31(2-3), pages 133-145, April.
  11. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521771337 is not listed on IDEAS
  12. SALMON, Pierre, 1999. "Vertical competition in a unitary state," LATEC - Document de travail - Economie (1991-2003) 1999-11, LATEC, Laboratoire d'Analyse et des Techniques EConomiques, CNRS UMR 5118, Université de Bourgogne.
  13. 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.
  14. Moravcsik, Andrew, 1991. "Negotiating the Single European Act: national interests and conventional statecraft in the European Community," International Organization, Cambridge University Press, vol. 45(01), pages 19-56, December.
  15. Breton, Albert & Salmon, Pierre, 2001. "External effects of domestic regulations: comparing internal and international barriers to trade," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 21(2), pages 135-155, June.
  16. 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, 09.
  17. Howitt, Peter & Wintrobe, Ronald, 1995. "The political economy of inaction," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 56(3), pages 329-353, March.
  18. Kirchgassner, Gebhard & Pommerehne, Werner W., 1996. "Tax harmonization and tax competition in the European Union: Lessons from Switzerland," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 60(3), pages 351-371, June.
  19. Faure, Michael G, 2000. "Product Liability and Product Safety in Europe: Harmonization or Differentiation?," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 53(4), pages 467-508.
  20. Wallace E. Oates, 1999. "An Essay on Fiscal Federalism," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 37(3), pages 1120-1149, September.
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