This paper argues that the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) created at Maastricht conformed to the neoliberal theory of interstate federalism in seeking to constitute structural conditions that circumscribed the effective exercise of activist public authority at both the Member State and European level. A response to a perceived ‘crisis of governability,’ it was designed to address the problem of excessive, and ineffective, governmental interventions in economic matters. By separating monetary and fiscal policy, the EMU ensured that no single public authority at the Member State or European level could control all the main levers of economic government. The Eurozone Crisis challenged this construct by emphasising the need for a coherent and effective exercise of public authority. The problem was thus no longer an excess of government but the absence of effective governmental authority for the EMU as a whole. Eurozone Crisis reforms introduced a greater scope for federal interventions in the domestic affairs of Member States and such reforms have elicited a new constitutional imaginary, expressed by European elites, that emphasises the need to generate ‘European sovereignty.’ This imaginary departs radically from the original EMU by foreseeing an omnicompetent European governmental apparatus that is able to intervene in, and control, economic developments across the Union in accordance with political objectives. The constitutional imaginary of the EMU can thus no longer meaningfully be called neoliberal. The early response to the COVID-19 Crisis, furthermore, highlights that the objectives pursued under the reformed EMU may depart from the set of policies traditionally associated with neoliberalism. What it should be called instead, however, remains unclear.
You can download the working paper at the SSRN.