Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Védrine, the Anti-Federalist

My friends at The Current Moment call attention to an article by Hubert Védrine in yesterday's Le Monde. Védrine suggests that the call for greater federalism in Europe as a response to the crisis of the euro is misguided: it is not what the people want, he argues, and not what is needed to prevent a repeat of the 2008 debacle, which was arguably a consequence of a relinquishment of sovereignty by states responding to the market's siren call for greater "efficiency" through deregulation.

There's much to ponder here, but the opposition of "national sovereignty" to "market" seems overdrawn to me. The call for deregulation succeeded in part because institutions could go shopping for the least constraining regulatory environment, setting up a race to the bottom. The solution is not necessarily to tighten regulations at the national level but to harmonize regulations at the international level in order to prevent a race to the bottom. What really underlies the argument advanced by Védrine and The Current Moment is a belief that EU politics is more dominated by market actors than national politics. At times this is true, but there is certainly no reason to believe that it is true in general or that a more effective response to the influence of market actors cannot be mounted through concertation at the international level.

1 comment:

Chris B said...

Some arguments are made about why in the abstract the EU should be predisposed to market-friendly, rather than market-constraining, policies. But more compelling is surely the historical development of the European Union itself. Comparing its moderate developments in the 1950s and 1960s with the much more extensive development from the mid-1980s onwards, we see that in the early period integration was limited by the strength at the time of the post-war Keynesian consensus, one which contained all sorts of constraints upon the market. The relaunch of the EU from 1985 onwards, however, coincides with a shift away from national Keynesianism in most European countries, even the seemingly most corporatist like Germany and the Netherlands. On that basis, the expansion of the EU has coincided with a broader ideological and political convergence across Europe towards more market-friendly policies. For that reason, it is unlikely to assume that pro-labour policies will suddenly emerge at the pan-European level.