Saturday, September 12, 2015

Maybe collective action at the national level doesn't work so well (EU)

"Its [the refugee waves] solution would be straightforward in the presence of a central authority empowered to take decisions. But this is not how the EU works. It works through co-ordination and harmonisation – through fiscal rules, banking regulation and neighbourhood policies. But none of them prevented the crisis, and none of them helps solve it. The problem was never a lack of rules or policies. It was the simple fact that certain things in life cannot just be co-ordinated.
Nor are member states big enough to act on their own - not even Germany. Angela Merkel is, for once, on the right side of the argument. But Germany does not have the capacity to absorb all the EU immigrants.
Viktor Orban, Hungary’s populist prime minister, produced a good rendition of the mindset that gives rise to collective action problems. He said last week this was not a European crisis, but a German crisis, since all the refugees wanted to go to Germany. Germany, I would add, acted in a similarly cavalier fashion during the euro zone crises.
The collective action problem is nobody’s fault in particular. It is hard-wired into the system. The EU’s job is not to prevent financial crises, or to save children from drowning in the Mediterranean Sea."

This sounds like when every individual [nation, in this case] wants to adhere closely to its own agenda and ideas, collective action falls flat.

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