The Economics of Harmonizing European Law

The Economics of Harmonizing European Law

New Horizons in Law and Economics series

Edited by Alain Marciano and Jean-Michel Josselin

One of the major effects of the continual process of European integration is the growing importance of transnational institutions and the accompanying legal harmonization. Such institutional changes have led to a seemingly irreversible transformation in public decision making, whereby power at the national level is displaced to the European and regional levels. This essential book provides a law and economics analysis of the challenges arising from these shifts in authority.

Chapter 10: A Europe of variety, not harmonization

Bruno S. Frey

Subjects: economics and finance, law and economics, law - academic, european law, law and economics


Bruno S. Frey1 The integration of Europe is a fascinating and wonderful idea. One of the major ideas is to overcome the perennial strife between the European nations (whose worst outcomes were the two World Wars in the twentieth century). Moreover, the integration should help to solve the ongoing civil wars of long duration and bitterness that still plague this continent: in former Yugoslavia, Ireland, the Basque country and Corsica. But Europe has not only a history of belligerence. It can be proud of its achievements in the arts, sciences, and the way of living. The basis of it all is variety: a Scot is unlike a Sicilian, a Breton unlike a Bavarian, and an Andalusian unlike a Prussian. The idea developed here is based on four basic ingredients. The future Europe has to be: – – – – peaceful, democratic, diverse, and productive. Our proposal of democratic decentralized jurisdictions differs drastically from the European Union existing today. In particular, (1) it emphasizes the role of citizens in the political process, and (2) decentralizes the political process to the functionally most appropriate level. The proposal thus seeks to redress the two well-known and often lamented shortcomings of the European Union: its democracy deficit and its decentralization deficit. Our proposal also differs markedly from the various reform plans currently discussed to mitigate the two ‘deficits’. Some seek to strengthen the European Parliament. But this measure does not necessarily engage the citizens of the EU more strongly in the political process nor does it really give...

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