The European Commission and fiscal governance reform: a strategic actor?

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Series Details Vol.40, No.6, November 2017, p1310-1330
Publication Date November 2017
ISSN 0140-2382
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West European Politics (WEP) covers political and social issues in Western Europe. It has a substantial reviews section and coverage of all national elections in Western Europe.

Its comprehensive scope, embracing all the major political and social developments in all West European countries, including the European Union, makes it important reading for both political practitioners and academics.Abstract:

The intensification of the financial and economic crisis in Europe has added a new impetus to the debate over the possibilities for securing supranational fiscal integration within the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU).

Since the literature on the European Union’s response to the crisis is dominated by the study of intergovernmental politics, this article considers the previously neglected role of the Commission. A framing analysis of the Commission’s crisis discourse is operationalised here, which is supplemented by interviews with senior officials located in the Directorate General for Economic and Financial Affairs (DG ECFIN) during key phases of the crisis.

It is found that a supranational reform agenda was never internalised by the Commission. Instead, the Commission acted strategically by framing the crisis around intergovernmental fiscal discipline. These findings suggest that, in line with the ‘new intergovernmentalist’ thesis, supranational institutions themselves may not be as ‘hard-wired’ towards supranationalism as is often assumed.

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