YUFE Academy Lecture hosted by Tor Vergata University of Rome
Date and Time: 20 November 2020, 11:00 – 13:00 CET
Registration Deadline: 6 November 2020
Available seats: 250
Lecturer: Professor Gustavo Piga
Description: In his First Inaugural Address, on March 4, 1861 in Washington D.C. US President Abraham Lincoln recalled that “…in 1787 one of the declared objects for ordaining and establishing the US Constitution, was to form a more perfect Union. But if [the] destruction of the Union, by one, or by a part only, of the States, be lawfully possible, the Union is less perfect than before the Constitution, having lost the vital element of perpetuity.” The word perfect was mentioned once more in that speech referring to a potential new Union of seceding states: “Is there such perfect identity of interests among the States to compose a new union, as to produce harmony only, and prevent renewed secession?”
In this perspective, unions of heterogeneous states are seen as dynamic and inherently unstable political arrangements, while also nudged by constitutions and treaties. Lincoln seemed further to imply that homogeneity and a common identity reduce instability and facilitate perpetuity of such arrangements.
But doesn’t a Federation require to leave certain items of decision to each (different) single members? Isn’t this also recognizing the possibility that different identities may survive within a «perfect» Union? Is there an optimal path toward such a perfect Union, minimizing the dangers that may put in harm’s way the Union itself?
We argue that constitutions and legal treaties are necessary but not sufficient instruments for successful Unions, i.e. perpetual Unions of heterogeneous States not threatened by secessions. In fact, the economics of those treaties and the way these frame the economic policy of the Union imply that we might not be able to meet the sufficiency criteria of a good constitution for a more perfect Union. We use historical lessons from the evolution of fiscal federalism in the United States to draw analogies and point at differences for the future potential evolution of the European Union.
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20 November 2020