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Europe in hard times: driving institutional change during the Eurozone crisis

Sacchi, Alessio (2016) Europe in hard times: driving institutional change during the Eurozone crisis. Advisor: Héritier, Prof. Adrianne. Coadvisor: Bonfreschi, Dr. Lucia . pp. 247. [IMT PhD Thesis]

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Abstract

The goal of this research is to provide a mid-range rationalist explanation of the dynamics of institutional change occurred in the European Union during the sovereign debt crisis. My starting hypothesis is that the crisis may represent a driving force for the emergence of major institutional changes. Moreover, I claim that the policy outcomes adopted are not a pure reflection of actors’ bargaining powers, but they are decidedly mediated by the existent institutional rules, and the decision making process behind their adoption, i.e. intergovernmental or supranational, can be determinant for their successfulness. Taking stock of the institutional changes occurred between 2010 and 2014, the research aims at understanding whether the Eurozone crisis triggered a deepening of the European integration, reflected by any eventual upload of authority from the national to the supranational level. In order to assess these issues, I analyze three different economic policies, namely the progressive strengthening of the rules of fiscal discipline, the creation of the financial instruments to support member States in need and the progressive setup of a banking union in the EU. For each issue area, I search empirical validation of my starting hypotheses and I apply an original index to measure the “rate of supranationalism” of different aspects of the policy. By comparing the institutional setup before and after the crisis, I am able to provide an assessment of the eventual supranationalization of each single policy, then of the EU as a whole. My findings offer a substantive empirical validation of the leading hypotheses. Namely, I demonstrate that the timing of adoption of major policy outcomes is strongly related to the most acute phases of the crisis in terms of financial markets’ pressure. Moreover, I show that intergovernmental policy making tends to create only incremental outcomes and even institutional deadlocks, while supranational decision making produces more effective outcomes. Finally, the application of the original index suggests that over the last years the European integration undertook a deepening process, resulting in a widening of the scope of supranational policies, an intensification of EU institutions’ powers as well as different forms of authority delegation to supranational bodies. These patterns of supranationalization were mainly driven by the pressure of financial markets and by the necessity of overcoming the institutional deadlocks engendered by intergovernmental negotiations, demonstrating that the Eurozone crisis has represented a political momentum for transformative institutional changes in the EU.

Item Type: IMT PhD Thesis
Subjects: J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
PhD Course: Political History
Identification Number: 10.6092/imtlucca/e-theses/182
Date Deposited: 01 Apr 2016 09:10
URI: http://e-theses.imtlucca.it/id/eprint/182

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