The federal system of the United States (US) has long served as a comparative model to the study of the European multilevel system for the protection of fundamental rights. Fundamental rights in Europe are simultaneously protected in the constitutions of the states, in the law of the European Union (EU), as well as in the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). Moreover, each of these overlapping layers of human rights norms is policed by institutions – particularly courts – which are interconnected but independent. This state of affairs presents analogies with the situation in the US. In the American system, rights are codified in state constitutions as well as in the federal Bill of Rights. Moreover, two connected but separate orders of jurisdictions – state and federal courts – are empowered to enforce the rights enshrined in their respective basic documents. Both the European multilevel human rights architecture and the US federal system, therefore, are structurally characterized by the existence of a plurality of sources and institutions for the protection of fundamental rights, as well as by a plurality of conceptions of what rights ought to be. Despite these similarities, however, the European and American human rights systems are the result of different constitutional experiences and have evolved over a diverse historical time-span. So, what is the added value of comparing the European multilevel human rights architecture with the US federal rights’ regime? Why is it helpful to compare and contrast these two cases? The benefits of a comparative approach in the field
The chapter analyses the proposals in favour of establishing a fiscal capacity – that is a budget of the euro area that can be used as a counter-cyclical tool for stabilization purposes in cases of asymmetric shocks. As the chapter explains, the fiscal capacity remains a missing link in the constitutional structure of EMU: the Maastricht Treaty did not foresee any supranational mechanism to handle asymmetric busts, and the responses to the crisis so far have not led to the creation of such an instrument. Yet, the author underlines that growing awareness exists on the need for such a fiscal capacity and he reviews the proposals advanced, among others, by the European Parliament, the European Commission and jointly by the French and German Governments for a euro area budget, suggesting that a consensus may be building in this direction. In fact, Fabbrini claims that there are adequate legal bases in the current EU treaties to set up such a stabilization tool, but he emphasizes that a successful fiscal capacity must be based on own resources – rather than state transfers – and subject to adequate governance and accountability mechanisms to ensure executive effectiveness and democratic legitimacy.