Is Europe Going Too Far?

47 Pages Posted: 7 Aug 2012

See all articles by Alberto F. Alesina

Alberto F. Alesina

Harvard University - Department of Economics; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Romain T. Wacziarg

UCLA Anderson School of Management; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Date Written: January 1999

Abstract

This paper examines the process of European political integration. We start with a political economy model of monetary policy, illustrating a general principle: economic integration requires setting up European institutions endowed with the authority to enact Europe-wide policies. However, when countries can take advantage of scale effects thanks to economic integration, the need for large countries is reduced. Thus increased economic integration reduces the need for political integration in Europe. To reconcile these views, we propose a model for the optimal allocation of prerogatives across levels of government. When the provision of public goods is characterized by cross-border spillovers, some centralization of policies may be needed to internalize the externality. These gains from centralization must be traded-off against the costs from imposing the same policies upon heterogeneous groups. The optimal allocation of prerogatives results from this trade-off. Using our model as a benchmark, we analyze the institutional incentives at play for the allocation of political prerogatives in Europe and conclude that the EU has gone too far on most issues.

Suggested Citation

Alesina, Alberto F. and Wacziarg, Romain T., Is Europe Going Too Far? (January 1999). NBER Working Paper No. w6883. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=147012

Alberto F. Alesina (Contact Author)

Harvard University - Department of Economics ( email )

Littauer Center
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
617-495-8388 (Phone)
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Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

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National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

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Romain T. Wacziarg

UCLA Anderson School of Management ( email )

110 Westwood Plaza
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1481
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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