The euro crisis, one of the deepest crises in the EU’s history, resulted in reforms that constituted a far-reaching deepening of European integration.
In this report, political scientists Lisa Dellmuth, Magnus Lundgren and Jonas Tallberg analyse two themes of the dynamics behind the eurozone reforms from 2010 to 2015: the formation of national interests and the bargaining at the EU level.
The analysis is based on unique data collected on the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) within the research project “EMU Choices”, involving partners from nine EU member states.
Their thorough study provides valuable lessons for the present initiatives centred on economic recovery during and after the corona pandemic. Some key take-aways:
Contrary to many accounts, bargaining success was relatively evenly distributed across member states: no states were left as unequivocal winners or losers. Thus, economic weight and membership in the eurozone did not create major differences. The Swedish government succeeded fairly well, likely because it advocated acceptable solutions.
The European Commission exerted more influence than any other actor. According to the authors, crisis situations thus present the Commission with opportunities to exert more influence than often suggested. Germany was the most influential member state.
Another conclusion concerns democracy: the domestic process of interest formation was often weak in inclusiveness, as preferences were developed by a handful of actors. Compared to other EU member states, the Swedish process was less inclusive. Against this background, the authors argue that domestic democracy is easily short-circuited in times of crisis.
Agreement on further monetary integration is likely to be constrained by the member states’ varying structural economic conditions, which are more stable than political factors such as public opinion or relationships in parliament.