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[Publisher:] Institut für Weltwirtschaft (IfW) [Place:] Kiel [Year:] 1992
Kieler Diskussionsbeiträge 192
Unlike previous steps in West European integration, the Treaty of Maastricht contains hardly any of the liberal elements which had so far kept the centralizing and bureaucratic features of the EC in check. The treaty embodies a vision of a uniform EC, to be modelled along the lines of an interventionist nation state. • Maastricht is the culmination of an integration strategy which was designed for a small number of West European countries. At least since the fall of the Berlin wall, this inward-looking approach has been wrong for Western Europe. With respect to a European integration that goes beyond the Western half of the continent, Maastricht leads into a dead end. The interventionist provisions of Maastricht, the harmonisation approach to the completion of the single market and the general strengthening of the common redistributive policies are barriers to an enlargement of the EC. This runs directly counter to the overriding task of European policy for the coming years: the re-integration of the European post-communist countries into the European mainstream. The attempt to pursue the two separate goals of economic integration and political unification within a single and uniform institution, the EC, is at the root of the major problems of European integration. The frequent blurring of economics and politics makes for bad economics and bad politics at the same time: It strengthens the EC's bias towards interventionist and politicized solutions to economic problems. It also impairs a close and effective political cooperation between the core countries of the EC because other members are obliged to participate even if they are merely interested in a common market. • To reconcile the parallel processes of economic widening and political deepening, European integration needs to be re-defined along classical liberal lines. Ideally , Europe should introduce a clear separation between politics and economics so that political goals such as an ever-closer Franco-German cooperation or the prevention of Serbian-style aggressions could be pursued effectively in a suitable political club, whereas economic integration could progress in a broader economic club. • If the EC is to become deeper and wider without burdening itself with an ever-greater potential for internal conflicts, it will have to concentrate its common activities on fewer and more essential tasks. It will have to put less emphasis on harmonisation and economic interventionism, scale down its harmful and divisive redistributive activities and weaken the link between economic integration and political cooperation. • In the Treaty of Maastricht, the subsidiarity principle is formulated in such general terms as to be almost useless. The principle needs to be clarified along liberal lines. To serve as an effective safeguard against excessive centralisation, it should then be elevated to a constitutional level so that it takes precedence over all existing and future Community legislation.
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