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The Early European “Federalism”: Ambiguities of Talks About How to Walk Toward a Political Union

  • Jean-Michel Josselin
  • Alain Marciano
Chapter
Part of the Studies in Public Choice book series (SIPC, volume 15)

Abstract

The European institutions constitute an incomplete – as incomplete as any constitutional contract – agency contract. Incompleteness means that the agents, the European institutions, benefit from important asymmetries of information and therefore behave as their own principal. They do not behave as they are told to but choose their own objectives and means of action. In this chapter, we analyze the historical origins of such incompleteness. We show that it results from, and as a consequence, is reinforced by the hesitations of the founders of the European institutions about the nature of a European federation . These ambiguities are crucial for a double reason: not only do they influence the nature of the tasks delegated to the European institutions but they also impact the way they can be controlled. We analyze a set ofdiscourses and official texts and show that the term “federal” bears various meanings, ranging from centralized federalism to decentralized confederalism .

Keywords

Member State European Institution European Nation Agency Relationship Political Integration 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Notes

Acknowledgment

A first version of this chapter was presented at a conference in Quebec City (Do They Walk Like They Talk? The political economy of speech and action in policy processes) and at the European Workshop in Law and Economics (Erfurt, April 2008). We thank the participants for their comments. We also thank Louis Imbeau for having given us the opportunity to prepare and present this paper.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculté des sciences économiques, Université de Rennes 1 and CREM-CNRSRennesFrance

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