The European Commission and fiscal governance reform: a strategic actor?

Thomas Warren (Lead Author), Patrick Holden, Kerry E. Howell

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The intensification of the financial and economic crisis in Europe has added a new impetus to the debate over the possibilities for securing supranational fiscal integration within the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU). Since the literature on the European Union’s response to the crisis is dominated by the study of intergovernmental politics, this article considers the previously neglected role of the Commission. A framing analysis of the Commission’s crisis discourse is operationalised here, which is supplemented by interviews with senior officials located in the Directorate General for Economic and Financial Affairs (DG ECFIN) during key phases of the crisis. It is found that a supranational reform agenda was never internalised by the Commission. Instead, the Commission acted strategically by framing the crisis around intergovernmental fiscal discipline. These findings suggest that, in line with the ‘new intergovernmentalist’ thesis, supranational institutions themselves may not be as ‘hard-wired’ towards supranationalism as is often assumed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1310-1330
Number of pages21
JournalWest European Politics
Issue number6
Early online date13 Mar 2017
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • European Commission
  • Fiscal Governance
  • neoliberalism
  • eurozone crisis
  • intergovernmentalism

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