The Politics of the European Semester:

EU Coordination and Domestic Political Institutions


Description of EUROSEM

This Jean Monnet network brings together a transnational team of scholars studying the economic and political effects of the European Semester (ES). The ES is a process designed to ensure the implementation of the EU’s rules for balanced budgets and economic policies, which is backed by sanctions. As it has become increasingly clear, introduction of the single currency not only produced convergence, it has also produced divergence across member states’ economies. Economists have frequently identified these economic imbalances as the root cause of Europe’s woes. The European Semester sits at the heart of the many initiatives designed to address these economic imbalances and incoherent policies.

This new process for coordinating policies across the EU has also raised concerns in that it could infringe on established democratic practices in member states. Against this backdrop, this research network project seeks to study two central questions: first, can the European Semester successfully reduce the economic imbalances identified as the euro’s underlying problem? And, second, does this new mode of coordination come at the cost of weakening national democracy? The key to both these questions lies in how the European Semester is implemented. While much has already been written on its design and principles, this project will add to this literature by tracing empirically how the Semester is enforced across four member states (Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, and Portugal), and what consequences these practices entail for EU democracy.

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