Journal of Economic Perspectives: Vol. 27 No. 3 (Summer 2013)


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What Is European Integration Really About? A Political Guide for Economists

Article Citation

Spolaore, Enrico. 2013. "What Is European Integration Really About? A Political Guide for Economists." Journal of Economic Perspectives, 27(3): 125-44.

DOI: 10.1257/jep.27.3.125


Europe's monetary union is part of a broader process of integration that started in the aftermath of World War II. In this "political guide for economists," we look at the creation of the euro within the bigger picture of European integration. How and why were European institutions established? What is European integration really about? We address these questions from a political-economy perspective, building on ideas and results from the economic literature on the formation of states and political unions. Specifically, we look at the motivations, assumptions, and limitations of the European strategy initiated by Jean Monnet and his collaborators of partially integrating policy functions in a few areas with the expectation that more integration will follow in other areas in a sort of chain reaction toward an "ever-closer union." The euro with its current problems is a child of that strategy and its limits.

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Spolaore, Enrico (Tufts U)

JEL Classifications

F15: Economic Integration
F33: International Monetary Arrangements and Institutions
F36: Financial Aspects of Economic Integration
F55: International Institutional Arrangements


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