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Economic Thought and Policy at the European Commission (1958-2000)

Ivo Maes

Economic thought and policy at the European Commission is, to a large extent, centred around the notion ofeconomic integration, very much a 'political economy' topic. To analyse more specifically economic thought at theEuropean Commission, two elements are crucial: firstly, the Rome Treaty, as it determined the mandate of theCommission and, secondly, the economic ideas in the different countries. Initially, economic thought at theCommission was to a large extent a synthesis of French (indicative planning) and German (ordo-liberal) ideas,with a certain predominance of French ideas. Later, Anglo-Saxon ideas would gain ground. At the beginning ofthe 1980s, the Commission's analytical framework became basically medium-term oriented, with an important rolefor supply-side and structural elements and a more cautious approach towards discretionary stabilisation policies.This facilitated the process of European integration, as it implied a stronger role for the market and a more limitedrole for the State.

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