Social Forces in the Making of the New Europe: The Restructuring of European Social Relations in the Global Political Economy

By Andreas Bieler; Adam David Morton | Go to book overview

3
Constitutionalising Capital:
EMU and Disciplinary
Neo-Liberalism 1

StephenGill

This chapter seeks (i) to conceptualise aspects of the emerging relationships between public and private patterns of authority or neo-liberal governance in the European Union (EU) and the global political economy, and (ii) to trace associated power structures and relations in terms of their coercive and consensual (material and normative) dimensions. In addition, some policy alternatives to neo-liberalism will be sketched.

New constitutionalism is an international governance framework. It seeks to separate economic policies from broad political accountability in order to make governments more responsive to the discipline of market forces, and correspondingly less responsive to popular-democratic forces and processes. New constitutionalism is the politico-legal dimension of the wider discourse of disciplinary neo-liberalism. Central objectives in this discourse are security of property rights and investor freedoms, and market discipline on the state and on labour, to secure ‘credibility’ in the eyes of private investors (e.g., those in both the global currency and capital markets).

The Maastricht Agreements and Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) are interpreted here as commensurate with this neo-liberal discourse. To explain the principles, practices and consequences, and more broadly the social power of this discourse, is complex. In Europe it partly involves analysis of fiscal crisis, the globalisation of and competition for financial sources for funding deficits, and instabilities associated with the European currency regime. Maastricht and EMU seek to minimise the threat of currency turbulence by moving to a single currency and by ‘locking in’ political commitments to orthodox market-monetarist fiscal and monetary policies that are perceived to increase

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