The clash of Titans: France, Germany and the discursive double game of EMU reform

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Series Details Vol.21, No.8, September 2014, p1085-1101
Publication Date September 2014
ISSN 1350-1763
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This paper investigates why and how French and German leaders converged on an agreement for reforming the European Monetary Union in response to the outbreak of the debt crisis in Europe. To answer these questions, we begin by revising Putnam's two-level game in order to offer a constructivist account of the politics of ‘grand bargains’ in the European Union. The Eurozone negotiations, we argue, are better viewed as a simultaneous double game in which preferences are constructed and reconfigured as leaders address simultaneously the other European decision makers and their own constituencies. In a discursive institutionalist perspective, a frame analysis is conducted on the basis of press conference speeches and press interviews in 2011 and 2012. It is demonstrated that the Franco-German agreements on new policy and institutional arrangements were only possible because the respective leaders resorted to differing discourses in terms of paradigms, norms and values.

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