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Ideas and Interests in the Construction of EMU:

Andreas Gofas

CSGR Working Paper no. 76/01

June 2001




After a period of neglect, if not hostility, toward ideational explanations we are now faced with a burgeoning literature on the role of ideas. Indeed, as Jacobsen (1995: 283) notes, it now seems obligatory for every work in political economy to consider the ‘power of ideas’ hypothesis –even if only then to dismiss it. This paper joins the current wave of ideational scholarship in examining the role of ideas in the construction of EMU. However, although the analytical starting-point is one of sharing with current ideational approaches a dissatisfaction with rationalist theorising that ‘black-boxes’ the processes of interest formation, the rationale of this paper emerges from another dissatisfaction; a dissatisfaction with the way these approaches have conceptualised ideas. It is argued that the current wave of ideational scholarship has not only failed to take ideas seriously (Blyth, 1997), but that it has also created a new ideational orthodoxy that reproduces either the rationalist bias of separating ideas and interests, by treating them as competing variables whose relative explanatory weight is to be methodologically checked, or the institutionalist bias that assigns ontological primacy to institutions. In an attempt to move beyond these deficiencies in the examination of how the interaction between ideas and interests produced the ideational consensus around the sets of ideas that EMU amalgamates, it tries to clearly specify the EMU ideas and analyse the ideational entrepreneurs involved and ideational transfer mechanisms at work.

Keywords: Ideas, EMU, social learning.

Address for correspondence

Andreas Gofas
Department of Politics and International Studies
University of Warwick, Coventry CV4 7AL

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