Presented by Päivi Leino-Sandberg, Professor of Transnational European Law at the University of Helsinki
What are the key ingredients of a fiscal union? In the EU, the answer is strong institutional ambition, a suitable crisis or two, and a sprinkling of legal creativity building on a constitutional imaginary of solidarity.
The EU has always been shaped by crises, and the past ten years or so have continued the pattern in the area of fiscal integration. Events tend to follow a predictable pattern: the expediency of the crisis creates a battering ram which makes long-standing national objections crumble. The institutions act quickly and push for the realisation of their long term ambitions. Some national parliaments cheer, others find their backs against the wall, and, in a flurry of events, EU fiscal relations get rearranged with little democratic debate and contemplation of the long-term consequences. The community of EU scholars rejoices, as more integration and stronger institutional presence are believed to be a good thing. While justified with reference to the ongoing crisis, every new innovation becomes a permanent part of the toolbox; the ratchet of EU fiscal integration only moves to one direction.