The Qualitative Shift in European Integration: Towards permanent wage pressures and a ‘Latin-Americanization’ of Europe?
US economist Hyman Minsky jokingly used to claim that there are as many varieties of capitalism as Heinz has pickles, that is 57 varieties (Minsky 1991). In this paper we argue that economic integration provides a similar analytical problem: economic integration can take many forms, and some are more conducive to wealth and freedom than others. Colonialism was probably the first form of international economic integration, and a very close form of integration at that. Intuitively we understand that what the European Union has attempted to achieve – ever since Winston Churchill called for ‘a kind of United States of Europe’ in a 1946 Zurich University speech – is something qualitatively very different from colonialism. In this paper we argue that European economic integration has made a qualitative shift from one type of economic integration to another, from a Listian symmetrical economic integration to an integrative and asymmetrical integration. We argue that this change – originating in a new definition of the nature of capitalism – is measurably threatening European welfare, first in the economic periphery and secondly potentially also in the core countries.
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