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Integrity and Efficiency in the EU: The Case against the European economic constitution

  • Eloi Laurent

    (OFCE)

  • Jacques Le Cacheux

    (OFCE)

The European Constitutional Treaty (ECT) was presented by its drafters as an explicit constitution for the European Union (EU 25). A possible explanation for its rejection by the French and Dutch citizens in the course of spring 2005 is that it did not sufficiently amend the implicit constitution of the EU 25, the European Union Treaty (EUT), which was truly the object of voters’ aversion. Assuming this to be true, there should be a thorough debate on the relevance and viability of the de facto current constitution of the European Union. In this paper, we engage in this debate by identifying what is essentially wrong with the economic provisions of the EUT, which we designate as the “European economic constitution.” Using a constitutional political economy approach, we first attempt to demonstrate that both what we define as the “principle of integrity” and the “principle of efficiency” of collective action appear to be violated by the European economic constitution. This occurs, respectively, because its provisions are not neutral, nor revisable, and because they do not sufficiently allow for the possibility of cooperative collective decision (leading to convergence in welfare) in a more than ever numerous and heterogeneous EU. Our essential argument in this respect regards the implications of the structurally different economic performances and incentives of small and large countries under the European economic constitution. Finally, since the present European trade-off between “integrity” and “efficiency” appears sub-optimal, we present two original ways of achieving potentially better ones in the EU, through a “Great compromise” or “Economic constitution(s),” expressing a preference for the latter.

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Paper provided by Sciences Po in its series Sciences Po publications with number 130.

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Date of creation: 2006
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Handle: RePEc:spo:wpmain:info:hdl:2441/3531
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  1. Rodrik, Dani, 1996. "Why do More Open Economies Have Bigger Governments?," CEPR Discussion Papers 1388, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Mill, John Stuart, 1848. "Principles of Political Economy (I): Production," History of Economic Thought Books, McMaster University Archive for the History of Economic Thought, volume 1, number mill1848-1.
  3. DeMeyer, Frank & Plott, Charles R, 1970. "The Probability of a Cyclical Majority," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 38(2), pages 345-54, March.
  4. 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.
  5. Eloi Laurent, 2007. "From Competition to Constitution: Races to Bottoms and the Rise of ‘Shadow’ Social Europe," Sciences Po publications 137, Sciences Po.
  6. Eloi Laurent & Jacques Le Cacheux, 2003. "Constitution Européenne : l'union politique dans les limbes," Sciences Po publications info:hdl:2441/2123, Sciences Po.
  7. Layard, Richard & Nickell, Stephen & Jackman, Richard, 1991. "Unemployment: Macroeconomic Performance and the Labour Market," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198284345.
  8. Eloi Laurent & Jacques Le Cacheux, 2004. "'L’Europe boucles d’or' : Trois maximes pour sortir d’une impasse," Sciences Po publications info:hdl:2441/2121, Sciences Po.
  9. Mill, John Stuart, 1848. "Principles of Political Economy (III): Exchange," History of Economic Thought Books, McMaster University Archive for the History of Economic Thought, volume 3, number mill1848-3.
  10. Cindy Skach, 2005. "We, the Peoples? Constitutionalizing the European Union," Journal of Common Market Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 43(1), pages 149-170, 03.
  11. Scharpf, Fritz W., 2002. "The European Social Model: Coping with the challenges of diversity," MPIfG Working Paper 02/8, Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies.
  12. Jacques Le Cacheux, 2005. "Politiques de croissance en Europe. Un problème d'action collective," Revue économique, Presses de Sciences-Po, vol. 56(3), pages 705-713.
  13. Eloi Laurent & Jérôme Creel & Jacques Le Cacheux, 2005. "Delegation in Inconsistency : the 'Lisbon Strategy' Record an an Institutional Failure," Sciences Po publications 2005-07, Sciences Po.
  14. Dennis Mueller, 2005. "Constitutional political economy in the European Union," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 124(1), pages 57-73, July.
  15. Éloi Laurent, 2005. "La croissance du progrès social," Revue de l'OFCE, Presses de Sciences-Po, vol. 93(2), pages 357-366.
  16. Eloi Laurent, 2005. "La croissance du progrès social (fiche de lecture)," Sciences Po publications info:hdl:2441/3481, Sciences Po.
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