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Asymmetric Intergovernmentalism in the Responses to the EU Financial Crisis and the Role of Germany

Maria del Carmen Sandoval Velasco

The aftermath of the crisis has resulted in a wide variety of societal and political changes across the EU, both at national and at European level, and which has also revealed the structural failures of the European construction and has questioned the legitimacy of the European institutions and the functioning of the EU governance. It has also had an important impact on policymaking within the European governance system, increasing the role of the intergovernmental method as a foundation of crisis management, especially in the field of economic policy coordination leading to the implementation of new decisions and creation of agreements and treaties- particularly that concerns the Eurozone countries in order to deal with the debt crisis and the financial imbalances, such as the "Fiscal Compact Treaty". The form of intergovernmentalism that we observe in the responses to the crisis is characterized by an asymmetrical nature, which is defined by the existence of asymmetries between the member states in a context of interstate cooperation relations and decision making processes within the EU, particularly on their capacity to define, draw and set up decisions and take actions at European level. The differences between the "bigger" and "smaller" member states in terms of socioeconomic development and their political power in the EU, is a feature defines this form of asymmetric intergovernmentalism which is achieving a relevant importance on the development of new decisions in the framework of the EU's economic governance, where Germany has been a key actor. Its capability to influence and set up the features for economic policy coordination -following their interests- has been crucial for the way in which the crisis has been managed, leaving smaller member states in a position in which they have practically no voice or power to set up the economic policy actions.

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