Volume 50 (2013) / Issue 6
In order to besustainable as a multilevel system of fiscal and economic governance, EMU faces certain challenges that are common to all federal, multilevel, or fiscally decentralized systems. This paper focuses on three such central challenges: (1) enforcing fiscal discipline; (2) addressing structural inequalities between different euro area economies; and (3) preventing and countering asymmetric shocks. The paper analyses the evolution of the EU's multilevel system of fiscal and economic governance in relation to these three challenges, showing that they have been only partially addressed. If it were to address these obstacles more fully, the EU would face a crucial choice between two ideal models of integration: The "surveillance model", where Member States maintain all taxing power and where the EU is an enforcer of discipline, and the "classic fiscal federalism" model, where the EU acquires an independent sphere of fiscal authority, and thus its own fiscal tools for macroeconomic stabilization. The paper analyses the implications of both models andargues that the surveillance model, when taken to its natural conclusion, poses as much of a threat to Member States' autonomy, and presents us with similar democratic legitimacy problems, as the classic fiscal federalism model.
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