The Five Trilemmas of Supranational Integration: Crises and Path-dependency from the Common Market to the European Fiscal Union

Seminar organized by ACIM research group and Jean Monnet Center ACTORE 

February 22, 2018

9.00 am  - Room C. 207 

Francesco Nicoli, PhD (Access Europe - Uva)

Discussant: Prof. Peter Bursens   (University of Antwerp)


Does integration advance through crises, as hinted by policy-makers such as Jean Monnet or Romano Prodi? To what extent failure in responding to crises may lead to disintegration instead? This paper provides a coherent understanding of the economic logic of European integration from the Common Market to today’s challenges, with a specific focus on periods of crisis, in the attempt of showing how each incremental step in integration constituted a response to a specific macroeconomic challenge. In doing so, we link together five independent trilemmas of international integration: the response on one specific set of problems resolves one given crisis, but sets the stage for the next set of problems to arise. Five trilemmas are connected between them: the “Single Market Trilemma”, originally developed by James Meade in 1957; the “Single Currency Trilemma”, put forward in the 1960-1961 articles by Robert Mundell; the “eeal economy trilemma” which identifies the conditions for a monetary union to thrive, developed by Kenen in 1969; conditions mirrored by Van Riet’s 2017 article on the “financial markets trilemma”. Finally, an EMU-specific “legitimacy trilemma”, developed by Nicoli (2017b) building on Rodrik’s (2007) contribution completes the analysis.

Bio of  Francesco Nicoli (PhD)

Francesco Nicoli is an ACCESS EUROPE postdoc where he is working on the research project the Political Economy of Postfunctional Integration. He is also the coordinator of the Institute for New Economic Thinking (INET-YSI) Working Group on Europe’s Political Economy of Europe. He obtained his PhD from the University of Trento. Previously, he was a fellow at the Hertie School of Governance in Berlin and a visiting fellow at the Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS) in Brussels. His work is focused on fiscal integration and the Eurocrisis. He holds a master degree in Economics jointly delivered by the University of Lugano in Switzerland and the Postgraduate Institute for Economics and International Studies in Milan. Before joining the University of Trento for his PhD, he served as a Research Assistant in several Brussels' think tanks, such as Bruegel and the European Policy Centre (EPC).

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