Social Policy Research Grant

Project: Monitored by School

Project Details

Grant Program

Social Policy Grant

Project Description

Field of research: European Union (EU) Studies and International Political Economy.
Introduction: This project represents an innovative interdisciplinary intervention that uses the canonical texts of Karl Polanyi (1944), and the insights from the burgeoning Polanyian scholarship in order to address the new macroeconomic surveillance mechanism of the European Union.
State-of the-art: The Eurozone crisis has brought back to life the old debate about the intergovernmental and the community methods. While some scholars argue that in the aftermath of the crisis the importance of intergovernmental decision-making has won the day, which in itself has been redefined into new-intergovernmentalism (Bickerton et al., 2015), others are more cautions and explore how previous decisions constrain even the most powerful states such as Germany. Steniberg and Vermeiren (2015) argue the adoption of a less orthodox monetary policy by the ECB was contrary to Germany’s preference, but was unavoidable given the unintended negative consequences of previous decisions. By using historical institutionalism that shows how feedback loops resulting from previous decisions constrains all member states, Steniberg and Vermeiren (2015) try to dispute the existence of an outright German hegemony. On the other hand many economists have identified a ‘Germanized Eurozone’ where the burden of adjustment falls unjustifiably on the debtors countries and leads to persistent macroeconomic imbalances (Blyth, 2013; Matthijs and Blyth, 2015).
This research project accepts Dawson (2015) conclusion that the crisis has given rise to a new method that combines decision-making features of the intergovernmental method with the supervisory and implementing mechanism typical for the community method. The great macroeconomic imbalances among member states called into being a new policy cycle, called the European Semester, whose objective is closer coordination of economic, fiscal and other policies among a) Eurozone member states which are bound by the Stability and Growth Pact, and b) the non-euro countries which are bound by the Euro Plus Pact.
This new policy cycle has inaugurated a turn towards greater intervention into member states’ domestic fiscal, labour, industrial and social policies (Crespy and Menz, 2015). The post-crisis reforms have increased the surveillance capacity of the European Commission and whether the reforms increases its power and how it does it is consequential for the distribution of power in the union. And just like in the case of the IMF’s incremental expansion of its prerogatives, a question imposes itself whether this new expansion in the Commission’s mission constrains the policy space of member states.
Subject of inquiry: The aim of this project is to make sense of the most powerful surveillance mechanism, European Semester, which exceeds even the IMF’s macroeconomic monitoring prerogatives (Moschella, 2015). My original contribution consists of providing a Polanyian analysis of the recent efforts to re-embed the Single Market. This project aims to gauge the level of embeddedness between member states’ economies, by examining the extent to which the new macroeconomic surveillance mechanism induces convergence among them.
Effective start/end date4/1/183/31/19


  • Polanyi
  • European Union
  • Macroeconomic survailance