How do we explain that the European Union gained so much authority, especially in economic areas? Most explanations of the EU usually start off by misdescribing how much authority it exerts over its member-states. Classic IR theorists in realist or liberal traditions describe the EU as a strong international regime, allowing them to explain it simply as a response to especially-strong regional versions of the exogenously-given conditions that ostensibly favor international cooperation elsewhere. Even more endogenously-inclined theorists who explain the EU as an ideational or institutionally path-dependent project tend to describe it as a quasi-federation that still falls well short of a “United States of Europe.” But if the EU certainly lacks some important powers of federal states, in some core areas it has surpassed them. Employing a comparison of the EU to three Anglo-Saxon federations (United States, Canada, Australia), we show that today’s EU actively exercises authority over states’ market openness and fiscal discipline that these federations have never claimed. This re-description of the EU outcome displays just how far Europe has departed from the expectations of classic IR theories, and highlights the kind of strongly endogenous ideational and institutional explanation it requires. Co-author: Craig Parsons, University of Oregon.
Matthias Matthijs is associate professor of international political economy. His research focuses on the politics of economic crises, the role of economic ideas in economic policymaking, the politics of inequality, and the democratic limits of regional integration. He was one of the inaugural recipients in 2015 of a Johns Hopkins Catalyst Award, in recognition of his work as a promising early-career investigator. He teaches courses in international relations, comparative politics, and international economics, and was twice awarded the Max M. Fisher Prize for Excellence in Teaching, in 2011 and 2015.
Since the summer of 2019, he is also a Senior Fellow for Europe at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR). He also currently serves as the Chair of the Executive Committee of the European Union Studies Association (EUSA).
Matthijs is the editor (with Mark Blyth) of the book The Future of the Euro published by Oxford University Press in 2015, and author of Ideas and Economic Crises in Britain from Attlee to Blair (1945-2005), published by Routledge in 2011. The latter is based on his doctoral dissertation, which received the Samuel H. Beer Prize for Best Dissertation in British Politics by a North American scholar, awarded by the British Politics Group of the American Political Science Association (APSA) in 2010.
In 2018, he won the Best Paper Award from APSA’s European Politics and Society section for “When Is It Rational to Learn the Wrong Lessons?” (co-authored with Mark Blyth). Among various other research and writing projects, he is currently working on a book-length manuscript that delves into the collapse of national elite consensus around European integration.
Dr. Matthijs received his BSc in applied economics with magna cum laude from the University of Antwerp in Belgium, and his MA and PhD in international relations from Johns Hopkins University.