The Macroeconomic Imbalance Procedure as European integration: a legalization perspective

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Series Details Volume 25, Number 11, Pages 1610-1628
Publication Date November 2018
ISSN 1350-1763 (print) | 1466-4429 (online)
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The Macroeconomic Imbalance Procedure seeks to prevent and correct destabilizing economic imbalances in the European Union (EU). Scholars are divided as to whether this instrument of economic policy co-ordination relies on familiar intergovernmental modes of decision-making or reflects supranational institutions more significant role in economic policy following the euro crisis. Such diametrically opposed interpretations are symptomatic of longstanding concerns over the lack of a clear-cut definition of European integration.

To address these definitional difficulties, this article turns to the concept of legalization. Taking account of the design and early implementation of the Macroeconomic Imbalance Procedure and using the Broad Economic Policy Guidelines as a point of comparison, it shows that the former can be understood as a modest but clear-cut increase in legalization compared to the latter. On this basis, it considers whether legalization, in spite of its own conceptual limitations, can contribute to a more rigorous definition of European integration.

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