Biblioteca della Libertà

Anno XXX, n. 131, settembre-ottobre 1995

La via dell'Europa passa per Maastricht? / Conclusions

La via dell'Europa passa per Maastricht? / Conclusions

Testo disponibile solo in lingua inglese.
In recent years, a great many political and intellectual stands have been taken on European unification. The vast majority of them have been to champion a certain single idea of Europe – the top-down road to unification staked out by the Treaty of Maastricht. In a liberal perspective, it is advisable, indeed necessary, to question precisely this conception of European unification. Europe and liberalism are a well nigh indivisible partnership, since for liberals national spirit and nationalism have never in any way overlapped. It is necessary to ask, however, which European institutional arrangement tallies with a specific liberal vision. The contributions collected in this issue of our review – not all of them written from a liberal standpoint – set out to reiterate to public opinion the basic reasons and problems of European unity, well removed from the clichés and rituals which invariably accompany it.
Abstract

The Commission Also Acts as a «Political Entrepreneur»

The Commission Also Acts as a «Political Entrepreneur»

Testo disponibile solo in lingua inglese.

Odd details apart, our judgment of the process which began with the Single European Act in 1986 has to be favourable. The home country principle and that of the harmonization of legislation are not at loggerheads. They are, rather, complementary actions for the effective development of the legal systems of the countries of the Union. The principle of subsidiarity too – which should be interpreted as a sharing out of fields not of action but of jurisdiction – makes an evolutionary process possible, albeit respecting the specific character of each single country. On the other hand, to believe that the process of competition between systems always leads straightway to the prevalence of the most efficient system would appear to be belied by events inside single countries. Recent experience, for example, suggests that liberalisation processes may be quicker and more effective if general rules are established to regulate them. Finally, extreme caution is in order when it comes to modifying the role of the Commission. The experience of past years has shown that at Community level, the Commission has been the body most committed to liberalization.

Abstract

EMU is Urgently Necessary, and Feasible

EMU is Urgently Necessary, and Feasible

Testo disponibile solo in lingua inglese.
The author begins by questioning the decision to favour, come what may, the «political» as opposed to the «technocratic» path to European Union. He argues that EMU is justified mainly by considerations of political economy, and outlines a possible strategy for its building. «A hard core» of countries – most likely the majority – capable of loosely meeting the convergence criteria contained in the Treaty of Maastricht by the 1997 deadline should set up EMU in 1997 itself or, as the Treaty envisages, no later than 1999. This option would be economically and politically opportune. At the established deadline, the exchange rates of the currencies of the countries concerned would be irrevocably frozen and their management entrusted to the European Central Bank. Then, after a brief adjustment phase, the single European currency would be issued. If this strategy were adopted, Antonio Martino's criticism of the excessive incrementalism of the EMU procedure envisaged in the Treaty of Maastricht would become irrelevant. The success of the strategy proposed would depend to a large extent on the credibility of the ECB. The provisions of the Treaty – which ought to be developed into a veritable «European Monetary Constitution» – would appear to offer ample guarantees in this respect.
Abstract

Dispersed Power Preferable for Currency Too

Dispersed Power Preferable for Currency Too

The central problem facing Europeans in the integration process is how to control and limit the Union's power at a central level. The answer is to disperse and divide power as much as possible, both vertically and horizontally. To do so a «super-subsidiarity principle» has to be introduced whereby power can only be granted at a superior level of government if the substantial efficiency of this level with respect to lower ones is entirely demonstrable. Hence the need to oppose the top-down imposition of a single currency managed by a European Central Bank subject to political control and pressure. It would be much more advisable and also less of a risk to have a system of competition between currencies along the lines of the present one. A single currency today would risk destroying the single market, triggering protectionist reactions inside member states. It would thus destroy the only instrument ultimately capable of creating effective convergence – the institutional competition made possible by the «four liberties». It would be far better for countries that have already achieved effective convergence to form a mini-EMU with a single currency. This would compete with other weaker, inflation-prone currencies, and other member states would be free to aggregate at a later date, once convergence among the respective institutions was achieved.

Abstract

From Common to Single Market

From Common to Single Market

Testo disponibile solo in lingua inglese.
The regulation of competition and the «common market» concept of the Treaty of Rome were clearly conceived in a perspective that was still prevalently internationalist. The aim was exclusively to ensure the free circulation of production factors among member states. Subsequently there was an increasingly marked tendency to attenuate internationalist premises in favour of the «single market» notion. Hence the opening up to competitors on the so-called public and service sector markets. This second formulation is the one which prevails in the Treaty of Maastricht. Free competition has thus become a parameter to measure the legitimacy on the various regulations which influence markets, national markets included. Member states are still free to make use of undifferentiated aid – aid, that is, available in broad sectors of the single national systems. Since this type of aid risks provoking distortions and competitive advantages, the home country principle has to intervene with its built-in mechanisms of normative competition.
Abstract

Integration and Competition

Integration and Competition

Testo disponibile solo in lingua inglese.
From the outset, Community treaties have always contained two different approaches to integration: integration by harmonization and integration by political competition among member states. The latter is consistent with the objective of a liberal Europe, made up of open societies and founded on individual freedom. The former, instead, leads to a bureaucratic, centralist European nation-state. Analysis of treaties and their enforcement reveals that it is the first conception that has prevailed. So much so that it may even rule out the second altogether in the future, if the 1996 Intergovernmental Conference fails to review the European Constitution from grass-roots level upwards. To hold back the drift towards centralism, the Constitution has to encompass the following elements: a clear spelling out of Community and national competences complete with solid procedural guarantees; the adoption of the home country principle in the sphere of economic integration; a genuine competitive system, binding not only on the private and public sectors, but also on member states and institutions; a system of harmonization, based on clearly defined minimal standards, solely in the fields necessary to make the single market work.
Abstract

The Ways to Monetary Union

The Ways to Monetary Union

Testo disponibile solo in lingua inglese.
The future of Europe's monetary unification is analysed in the light of the experience of the past twenty-five years and in the perspective of what is considered to be a necessary revision of the present strategy. Pegging exchange rates and trying to impose uniform convergence criteria on all European countries will not only produce undesirable consequences, but will also bring us no closer to a common European currency. This outcome depends on whether we adopt a monetary constitution or not – on whether, that is, we succeed in drawing up a set of rules of monetary conduct capable of providing adequate guarantees against European monetary mismanagement. In other words, a monetary rule is a necessary precondition for a common European currency. If, on the other hand, money continues to be used as an instrument of discretionary policy, monetary unification is unlikely to be achieved.
Abstract

The Danger of Abandoning Maastricht

The Danger of Abandoning Maastricht

Testo disponibile solo in lingua inglese.
The principle that the government of the Union should be entrusted with competences such as to shape it as a «minimal state» is a good one. In real terms, though, limiting the Union's budget to 1.27% of the Community GNP appears somewhat excessive. A 2% ceiling would make more sense. It would, for example, leave room for transfers to the weaker countries, especially those of Eastern Europe. It would also allow macroeconomic policies supporting growth and employment levels, thus quelling, within some countries, the onset of unbearable tensions, the consequence of which would be protectionist pressure likely to jeopardise the single market itself. As to monetary unification, the guarantees contained in the Treaty of Maastricht are ample enough to avert the risk of monetary mismanagement. If anything, it is the opposite risk – the growing tendency to consider only a zero inflation rate as acceptable – which is a cause for concern. True, inflation has to be controlled, but descending below 2% would risk triggering a deflation process comparable to the one that is scourging Japan. Finally, to arrive at a single currency it is preferable to adhere to the convergence criteria set out in the Treaty of Maastricht according to the less stringent interpretation envisaged by article 104C, 2b and 6.
Abstract

Five Guarantees against Centralisation

Five Guarantees against Centralisation

Testo disponibile solo in lingua inglese.
All existing federal states have undergone a process – with varying degrees of profundity but, in all cases, wide-ranging – of progressive centralisation. This has happened despite the fact that federal constitutions contain specific clauses to protect against such a risk. The European Union has to learn from the experience of the past, and hence to avoid repeating mistakes. Analysis of the experience of other federal states (of the United States, Canada, Germany, Switzerland, Austria and Australia in particular) demonstrates that centralisation processes occur mainly in five areas. It is here that specific constitutional safeguards have to be introduced. They comprise the procedures for the revision of the Constitution, the composition and role of the federal constitutional court, the Union's power to raise taxes, the guaranteeing of the member states' right to secession and, finally, the need to introduce asymmetrical voting rules for ordinary legislation – rules capable, that is, of facilitating decisions to decentralise and restore competences to the lower levels of government as opposed to decisions to centralise and regulate. If it is to be liberal, the Constitution of the future European Union must contain specific, rigid guarantees on these five points.
Abstract

A Project that Makes Sense, but Can It Work?

A Project that Makes Sense, but Can It Work?

Testo disponibile solo in lingua inglese.
The author agrees entirely with the premises adhered to by the drafters of the European Constitution project outlined by Frank Vibert. The Treaty of Maastricht has to be revised according to a pattern of explicit constitutional principles, known and taken up by public opinion in the various countries of Europe. After all, the project clearly sets out to be not a «rationalisation» or possible offshoot of the European institutional and constitutional model pursued since the Treaty of Rome, but rather a deliberate «breakaway» from it. The proposal is undoubtedly an attractive one. It also happens to make sense. Numerous doubts still linger, however, as to its feasibility. It is hard to understand, for example, why legitimisation through member states should allow the Union to remain forever and for always, positively (setting limits) and negatively (setting itself limits), within the desired limits. One wonders whether the Europe designed here can win the consensus needed for the text to be approved; and, if it were to be approved, whether it can achieve a consensus of prevailing European public opinion such as to be applied in the way its promoters intend.
Abstract

Liberal – and Feasible – Federalism

Liberal – and Feasible – Federalism

Testo disponibile solo in lingua inglese.
The most praiseworthy feature of the European Constitutional Group's project is the highly systematic nature of its content. But this is also a weakness. Its organisational proposals – especially the one to strengthen the Council's role – would risk being counterproductive, if they were implemented without strict constitutional constraints in monetary and, above all, fiscal matters. The «social» inclinations of European mass and elite political culture are, de facto, so deeply rooted that it is unrealistic to think that there will be room in the short and medium term for fiscal constitutionalism as clear-cut and explicit as that argued by the Group. To date, the chief effect of the integration process has been to improve the market compatibility of national social protection systems. There is no reason to fear that this tendency will be reversed in the future. What the world system asks of Europe today is a massive project of state-building on a continental scale. The price to pay may be a Europe with more clout than is strictly necessary. But, in view of the prize at stake, even liberals should be prepared to pay it
Abstract

The Solution is Competition among Institutions

The Solution is Competition among Institutions

Testo disponibile solo in lingua inglese.
Although Giovanni Bognetti's perplexities about the feasibility of a European Constitution with a radically liberal and market-oriented flavour are well founded, Frank Vibert's project is also open to substantial criticism. A «European minimal state» or confederation such as the one hypothesized by Vibert would fail to combat the powerful interest groups which jeopardise the liberty of the system. It is true, though, that all thrusts towards centralisation need to be contained. In this respect, the theory of competitive federalism provides a number of interesting pointers. The main priority is to offer incentives both to vertical competition (between top European institutions and national states, and between states and regions) and horizontal competition (among the national states themselves and among regions). Hence the need to learn from the experiences of other federal states. First of all, it is necessary to make a clear-cut distinction between the competences of European institutions and those of national states. Secondly, compulsory referendums may be envisaged for transfers of competence from one level to another. Finally, a specific set of tools has to be developed to control expansionist tendencies in the fiscal sphere – albeit acknowledging the need for small but guaranteed European sources of revenue.
Abstract

Italian Constitution and European Constitution

Italian Constitution and European Constitution

Testo disponibile solo in lingua inglese.
The first part of the essay examines the issues raised by the overlapping of the Italian and the European constitutions. The European system asserts the general principles of competition and the prohibition of state aid to enterprises (as well as specific obligations in monetary and budget matters). It thus tends to dismantle – and always will do – the social democratic mould of the Italian system. This is to be regarded as perfectly constitutional in so far as the Constitution itself allows for a neoliberal version of the welfare state. The question of the so-called «counterlimits» to «limitations» of sovereignty which article 11 of the Constitution authorises Italy to acknowledge to a supranational organisation such as the European Union holds no practical weight in this respect. In view of the world political and economic situation on the threshold of the twenty-first century, we have to champion the Union at all costs. In the future, in fact, international competition will be increasingly between large continental blocs. The second part of the essay analyses the consequence of this argument in terms both of the Treaty of Maastricht as it stands, and of the modifications proposed by the European Constitutional Group, from the theoretical point of view and with regard to their practical applicability.
Abstract

A Liberal Proposal for a Constitution for Europe

A Liberal Proposal for a Constitution for Europe

Testo disponibile solo in lingua inglese.
The traditional «centralist» model of European unification is now so lumbered with problems as to appear obsolete. The path to political union followed hitherto has led nowhere simply because it is littered with too many errors: the attempt to reach the destination by a roundabout route, the mechanical transposition of national government models at European level, incrementalism, functionalism, the failure to assert clear liberal values. Now that communism has collapsed, the great risks which European institutions have to avert are statism and elitism. Hence the liberal project for European political union drawn up by the European Constitutional Group sets out to prevent the errors of the past and present being perpetuated in the future. It pivots on four main points: the Union's exercise of powers delegated by member states; concern with integration processes as opposed to their end results; the preservation of multiple jurisdictions; and the involvement of national institutions in matters of Union jurisdiction.
Abstract

For European Citizenship

For European Citizenship

Testo disponibile solo in lingua inglese.
The first item on the agenda of the 1996 Intergovernmental Conference will be the dilemma between enlargement and cohesion of the European Union. The widely canvassed solution of a two-speed Europe was recently reformulated by Valéry Giscard d'Estaing in his proposal for a two-tier Europe (with the Northern area of the DM on the one hand, and the Latin or Mediterranean area of the Ffr on the other) held together by the Paris-Bonn axis. But neither of the projects solves the problem of the «democracy deficiency» in community institutions. Hence the diffidence and aloofness of European citizens vis-à-vis the very idea of a united Europe. It is now necessary to rethink the constitutional foundations of the Union. Seen from this angle, the Proposal for a European Constitution described here by Frank Vibert is an invaluable contribution. The only way to make up for the present lack of democracy is by creating effective European citizenship. But this seems somewhat at loggerheads with the project's proposal to accentuate the role of national states to the detriment of community institutions.
Abstract

Presentation

Presentation

Testo disponibile solo in lingua inglese.
Although by far the majority of citizens and political movements are in favour of European unity, the latter is by no means proceeding apace with political, strategic and economic requirements. The cause is to be sought in the institutional mechanisms – at once too weak, too oligarchic and too bureaucratic – which have paved the way towards European unity thus far. The idea behind the conference «The Europe of liberalism and open society» is to rethink these mechanisms in a liberal direction. More than a mere economic theory, liberalism has been and is a vision of people, of society and of political institutions. Its contribution of ideas may prove vital for the attainment of European unity.
Abstract

Prossimi eventi

23 Nov
Sala "Norberto Bobbio" - Torino
21 Nov
Grattacielo Intesa Sanpaolo - Torino

Diventa nostro amico su Facebook

Ricerche e Progetti

logo RGR medio

  • Recuperare la rotta é il titolo del XVIII Rapporto «Giorgio Rota» su Torino, presentato il 7 ottobre alla Biblioteca Nazionale.

lpf logo

Biblioteca F. Guerrini

biblioteca guerrini

 Dotata di oltre 9.000 volumi, offre una documentazione unica in Italia sul pensiero liberale contemporaneo.