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The Fiscal Compact: Evidence for Germany’s Hegemony in the Economic and Monetary Union?

David Schäfer

Why are the most powerful EU member states more successful in diffusing their norms than less powerful member states? From a constructivist perspective, this is somehow surprising as it is commonly assumed that norm diffusion is particularly likely when power ‘recede[s] in the background’ (Risse 2000: 7). This paper addresses this puzzle and argues that power asymmetries do not constrain norm diffusion; by contrast, they foster norm diffusion. The study draws on the concept ‘hegemonic socialisation’ by Ikenberry/Kupchan (1990). The selected case study to analyse the impact of power asymmetries on norm diffusion is the Maastricht Treaty (1992-3) negotiations leading to the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU). It is selected as its norms are the result of intense norm contestation among the EU member states and thus allows for analysing the process of norm diffusion. I proceed in two analytical steps:first,I will analyse the issue-specific power resources of France, Germany, Ireland and Portugal as a sample of four member states involved in EMU negotiations representing a variation from low to high issue-specific power resources. I will then trace the process of the negotiations on EMU. The process-tracing will reveal how EMU norms evolved and if power asymmetries influenced the process of norm diffusion. For power to have an impact on norm diffusion, we would expect the powerful member states having uploaded their national norms more successfully than the rather powerless member states. The paper concludes that power does play a role for norm diffusion, however, power is not a sufficient condition to diffuse norms.

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