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Is Europe Going Too Far?

  • Alberto Alesina
  • Romain Wacziarg

This paper examines the process of European political integration. We start with a political economy model of monetary policy, illustrating a general principle: economic integration requires setting up European institutions endowed with the authority to enact Europe-wide policies. However, when countries can take advantage of scale effects thanks to economic integration, the need for large countries is reduced. Thus increased economic integration reduces the need for political integration in Europe. To reconcile these views, we propose a model for the optimal allocation of prerogatives across levels of government. When the provision of public goods is characterized by cross-border spillovers, some centralization of policies may be needed to internalize the externality. These gains from centralization must be traded-off against the costs from imposing the same policies upon heterogeneous groups. The optimal allocation of prerogatives results from this trade-off. Using our model as a benchmark, we analyze the institutional incentives at play for the allocation of political prerogatives in Europe and conclude that the EU has gone too far on most issues.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 6883.

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Date of creation: Jan 1999
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Publication status: published as 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.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:6883
Note: ME
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  1. Eijffinger, Sylvester C W & Hoeberichts, Marco & Schaling, Eric, 2000. "A Theory of Central Bank Accountability," CEPR Discussion Papers 2354, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Alberto Alesina & Reza Baqir & William Easterly, 1997. "Public Goods and Ethnic Divisions," NBER Working Papers 6009, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Robert J. Barro, 1988. "Government Spending in a Simple Model of Endogenous Growth," NBER Working Papers 2588, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Casella, Alessandra & Feinstein, Jonathan, 1991. "Public Goods in Trade: On the Formation of Markets and Political Jurisdictions," CEPR Discussion Papers 511, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  5. Easterly, William & Rebelo, Sergio, 1993. "Fiscal policy and economic growth: An empirical investigation," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(3), pages 417-458, December.
  6. Barro, Robert J. & Gordon, David B., 1983. "Rules, discretion and reputation in a model of monetary policy," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 12(1), pages 101-121.
  7. Easterly, William & Levine, Ross, 1997. "Africa's Growth Tragedy: Policies and Ethnic Divisions," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 112(4), pages 1203-50, November.
  8. Enrico Spolaore & Alberto Alesina & Romain Wacziarg, 2000. "Economic Integration and Political Disintegration," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(5), pages 1276-1296, December.
  9. Alesina, Alberto & Spolaore, Enrico, 1997. "On the Number and Size of Nations," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 112(4), pages 1027-56, November.
  10. Eijffinger, S-C-W & de Haan, J, 1996. "The Political Economy of Central-Bank Independence," Princeton Studies in International Economics 19, International Economics Section, Departement of Economics Princeton University,.
  11. Maurice Obstfeld., 1998. "EMU: Ready, or Not?," Center for International and Development Economics Research (CIDER) Working Papers C98-101, University of California at Berkeley.
  12. Martin Feldstein, 1997. "The Political Economy of the European Economic and Monetary Union: Political Sources of an Economic Liability," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 11(4), pages 23-42, Fall.
  13. Alberto Alesina & Romain Wacziarg, 1997. "Openness, Country Size and the Government," NBER Working Papers 6024, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. De Grauwe, Paul, 1996. "Monetary union and convergence economics," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 40(3-5), pages 1091-1101, April.
  15. repec:dgr:kubcen:1998103 is not listed on IDEAS
  16. Alberto Alesina & Nouriel Roubini & Gerald D. Cohen, 1997. "Political Cycles and the Macroeconomy," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262510944, June.
  17. Kydland, Finn E & Prescott, Edward C, 1977. "Rules Rather Than Discretion: The Inconsistency of Optimal Plans," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 85(3), pages 473-91, June.
  18. Ben-David, Dan, 1993. "Equalizing Exchange: Trade Liberalization and Income Convergence," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 108(3), pages 653-79, August.
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