A critique of the Maastricht road to European Monetary Union : bringing labour market analysis back in
This thesis criticises the current project of European Monetary Union, based on the Maastricht convergence criteria. It attempts to reinterpret the issue of economic convergence by looking into structural aspects from a political economic point of view. Taking a structural approach, I examine the socio-political sustainability of EMU. The thesis applies the theoretical framework set forth by the French regulation school. Drawing on the regulationists' notion of 'regime', the concept of structural / regime compatibility among member states is introduced. The need to study non-monetary regimes in assessing the viability of monetary union is stressed by drawing on the historical experiences of monetary unions in the 19th century - the Latin Monetary Union, the Scandinavian Monetary Union and the American Monetary Union. Among the non-monetary structural regimes, the examination of national labour market regimes is crucial. After the loss of exchange rates as a means of adjustment, labour market adjustment becomes the key in coping with asymmetric economic shocks. Labour market flexibility is considered to be the main weapon of adjustment in post-EMU Europe. The comparison of three main labour market regimes in Europe - France, Germany and Britain - shows that they diverge substantially in their adjustment mechanisms and in the nature of their flexibility. Following Robert Boyer, I argue that there is fundamental incompatibility in national ideologies, concepts and practices of labour market policies in Europe. Without a common labour market regime, such differences could lead to major tensions between the Anglo-Saxon model of'external flexibility' and the continental European model of 'internal flexibility'. The thesis aims to show where the difficulties lie for the management of the future 'Euroland', including Britain, in order to indicate the tremendous task facing European policy makers.