Jean Monnet Center at NYU School of Law


Under the Auspices of the Stability Pact

The aim of this article has been to consider provisional suprastatism, into theoretical perspective. That raises an additional question. To what extent are the four alternative options actually advocated?

They are in fact proposed by individuals, who are either strongly against the democratic deficit or strongly in favour of limiting the reach of democracy through transnational separation of powers or irreversibly technocratic rule. Especially, there are influential protagonists in favour of abandoning accountability. That position is needed in order to defend the idea of the European Central Bank being irreversibly beyond any possible influence from electoral change or shifts in public opinion. Governments have changed in Great Britain, France and Germany during 1997 and 1998. However, when it comes to the Central Bank being unreachable, they are all advocating technocratic rule.

Apart from the important exception of defending the irreversibility, rather than the reversibility, of monetary union, provisional suprastatism dominates the picture. However uncomfortable politicians and political commentators may feel, they tend to defend the democratic deficit. That is done by referring to national sovereigny being delegated rather than surrendered. Accepting the restrictions of marginality, predictability and revocability they see no better alternative than sticking to democratic accountability within each single country.

Hopefully, this concentration on democratic accountability in the member states will have a practical consequence. The EMU should vitalize the system of nation-wide political parties, popular movements and open government. Otherwise the national political life inside a monetary union without fiscal union - in periods and areas of recession and deflation - will have to face a very hard choice. A breakdown of nation-wide political parties and trade unions will force the member states to choose between taking the step up to fiscal union or to give up political rights and free elections in order to prevent social unrest and populist political parties getting dominant. In order to make the stability pact work - meaning that fiscal union and abandoning basic human rights should be avoided at every conceivable price - the member states will need more rather than less democracy (S. Gustavsson 1997-98: 23 ff, 1998 a: 204 ff, 1999: 20 ff).

Setting our hopes on a democratic renewal under the auspices of the stability pact may seem too hazardous. In my view, however, there is no better idea than the stability pact when it comes to revitalizing national democracy in order to make 21st century Europe a better union of states than the one we have experienced since 1914. My analysis seems to be showing, that the alternatives are even more venturesome.

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