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Why Are We Still Waiting for a Change of Paradigm? Sociological Perspectives on the Actors of the European Economic Governance

Didier Georgakakis, Frédéric Lebaron

In 2008, most of commentators thought that the time had come for a sustainable change of paradigm toward a European new-Keynesianism. Seven years later, it is hard to say that this turn has come. National governments and the EU institutions (including the ECB) have taken new measures (support to Greece, creation of the ESM, quantitative easing), but under an extremely slow and incremental form, the central element of the European economic paradigm (austerity) remains in place (or is even reinforced). Why was this opportunity missed despite calls from the USA as well as many economists? How can we explain the strength of the dominant paradigm, and the minor adaptations that occurred? Among several hypotheses, this paper focuses on the key actors in European economic governance. Based on statistical and comparative analysis of 300 European high ranked officials (ECB, Commission, European Parliament) between 2002 and 2012, the study shows that the field of actors in charge of European economic governance is structured by a great permanency and, counter-intuitively, is mainly dependent on people having more bureaucratic and political skills than economic skills. After having explained the model and theses results, the paper builds on the consequences of these features.

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