Political Goals, Legal Norms and Public Goods: The Building Blocks of Europe?

prisme8Prisme N°8 November 2006

Robert Boyer & Mario Dehove

Prisme N°8 November 2006 (671.2 KiB)

In the introduction of technical norms and the free circulation of goods and people, as in the harmonization of indirect taxes or the portability of social rights, the principle of competition dominates over all other principles in the building of Europe. This primacy of competition has aroused the distrust of many citizens regarding the Union and is now obstructing the emergence of public goods in Europe. While economic theory provides satisfactory explanations of public goods management, it is has great difficulty in analysing their genesis. This helps to explain the discrepancies between the theory’s predictions and the empirically observable distribution of powers.

Theories of justice maintain that the persistence of strong national traditions in areas such as professional relations or the expression of solidarity make the construction of a social Europe more difficult. Legal analysis highlights the decisive role played in all member states by judges and courts, whose jurisprudence continuously and practically delimits the role and prerogatives of all the players. By so doing, they create the conditions for a review of the allocation of these powers by the political authorities. The necessary reconstruction of European institutions must then anticipate the formation of new public goods as diverse as security and justice, science and energy security.