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France's and Italy's policies on European monetary integration: A comparison of "strong" and "weak" states

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  • Economics
  • Political Science


This work compares France and Italy's policies on European monetary integration from the early 1970s to the late 1990s, arguing that their very different 'state structures', encompassing domestic structures and social normative order, determined their different policies in three ways. In France, the monolithic state structure produced coherent macroeconomic policies that were a crucial condition for taking part in the process of European monetary integration. In Italy, the fragmented 'archipelago' configuration of the state resulted in incoherent macroeconomic policies, which challenged the participation to European monetary agreements. Second, state structures determined how national policy preferences on EMU were formed domestically, and were fed into the EU process. Whereas France generally presented a unified position, decided by the political authorities and pursued assertively, Italy's stance was often internally divided, and undermined by domestic economic and political weaknesses. Third, state meta-structure promoted different visions for EMU, whereby the French authorities, largely favouring an intergovernmental framework, objected to central bank independence and attached great importance to the European and global power dimension of the project. The Italian authorities, instead, supported a supranational framework for EMU, and were primarily concerned about its domestic impact, first and foremost economic convergence.

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