Monetary Disunion: The Domestic Politics of Euroland

With Lea Elsässer, Journal of European Public Policy, 2015

Abstract: Regional disparities within the European Union have always been perceived as an impediment to monetary integration. Discussions on a joint currency were linked to compensatory payments in the form of regional policy. Structural assistance increased sharply at the end of the 1980s. Later, however, it had to be shared with the new member states in the East. Moreover, the low-interest credit that Southern European Monetary Union members enjoyed as a result of interest rate convergence is no longer available. We predict that considerable amounts of financial aid will have to be provided in the future by rich to poor member countries, if only to prevent a further increase in economic disparities. We also expect ongoing distributional conflict between payer and recipient countries far beyond current rescue packages. We illustrate the dimension of the conflict by comparing income gaps and relative population size between the centre and periphery in Europe and in two nation-states with high regional disparities, Germany and Italy.

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(Previously published as Discussion Paper 14/17, Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies, October 2014 Download [PDF])

Brutish, nasty – and not even short: the ominous future of the eurozone

Appeared in The Guardian, August 17, 2015

Now the dust has temporarily settled over the ruins of Greece’s economy, it is worth asking if there wasn’t a brief moment when the actors had found a way to cut the eurozone crisis’s Gordian knot. At some point in July German finance minister, Wolfgang Schäuble, appeared to have realised that his dream of a “core Europe” with a Franco-German avant-garde would vanish into thin air if Greece was allowed to remain in the economic and monetary union. Rewriting the rules of the union to accommodate the Greeks, Schäuble realised, would pull the euro southwards, and France, Italy and Spain with it – forever breaking up the European core. (Continue)

Griechenlandkrise: Gefangen in der Eurozone

Debattenbeitrag für Spiegel Online, 8. Juli 2015. English translation published on Verso Books Blog.

Es gibt noch Fortschritt in Europa. Als der damalige griechische Ministerpräsident Georgios Papandreou 2011 ein Referendum über die Austeritätswünsche seiner europäischen Kollegen abhalten wollte, wurde er von diesen kurzerhand abgesetzt.

Als Nachfolger entsandten Brüssel und Berlin einen gewissen Loukas Papademos, Vertrauensmann der internationalen Finanzindustrie, der Anfang der Nullerjahre als griechischer Zentralbankchef mithalf, sein Land mit Hilfe von Goldman Sachs Euro-würdig zu rechnen. So etwas ging diesmal nicht – dank eben jener Restbestände nationaler Demokratie, die die deutschen Europhilen zugunsten einer zukünftigen „europäischen Demokratie“ suspendieren wollen. Weiterlesen

The strikes sweeping Germany are here to stay

Appeared in The Guardian, May 22, 2015

German strikes once seemed like German jokes: a contradiction in terms. But no more: this year, Europe’s largest economy is on course to set a new record for industrial action, with everyone from train drivers, kindergarten and nursery teachers and post office workers staging walkouts recently. The strike wave is more than a conjunctural blip: it is another facet of the inexorable disintegration of what used to be the “German model”. Weiterlesen