In 1988, German political scientist Fritz Scharpf published a seminal article (Scharpf, 1988) in which he argued that the EU was characterized by a situation which is typical of many federal systems: it had fallen into a ‘joint decision trap’ in which the need for consensus and unanimous decision- making among a large number of member states and institutions at the supranational level would systematically hinder innovation and lead to suboptimal compromise arrangements. Simplified versions of Scharpf’s arguments have been part and parcel of many popular critiques of the European Union ever since its foundations. From legendary French President de Gaulle’s 1962 denunciation of European bureaucrats as faceless legislators, speaking in an incomprehensible ‘Volapük’ language, to more recent attacks against EU regulatory policies in Europe’s popular press, the efficiency of the EU has been and is a popular target of criticism. Successive US administrations have chafed under slow decision-making by Europeans. Industry associations lament the byzantine structures of EU institutions. The euro crisis of 2010/2011 demonstrated only too clearly the limited enforcement capacity of the EU against rule breakers.
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