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On consensus, constraint and choice: economic and monetary integration and Europe's welfare states

Bolukbasi, H. Tolga
This article reassesses the theoretical expectations and empirical findings in the political economy literature on the impact of economic and monetary union (EMU) on European welfare states. After summarizing the literature which views EMU as the symbol of the primordial conversion to neoliberalism, the article identifies the underlying hypothesis, assumptions, and predictions of the earlier, largely apprehensive literature of the 1990s which was based on ex ante convictions on EMU's social consequences. Then it reviews more recent ex post studies pointing to dynamics of welfare state resilience informed by new empirical evidence that became available and new theoretical approaches that became influential. After highlighting the conditions under which welfare reforms have taken place and the role played by EMU in these processes, this article concludes by re-evaluating the earlier expectations in the literature in light of the empirical findings and draws lessons for the discipline of political economy.