Abstract

European Union (EU) fiscal governance, especially the European Semester, is an ambitious new governance architecture involving surveillance and discipline, across both Eurozone and non-Eurozone member state policies, in pursuit of fiscal rigor. It is the most recent of several attempts to expand EU powers over member state policy with the goal of austere budgeting, and one that has led to remarkable claims of authority by the European Union over member state health policies as detailed as medical school admissions and the role of primary care. It is expected that it would be resisted not just by those who object to an EU role in the organization and delivery of health care but also by those who object to a particular austere approach to health policy. How well is it working? Using two waves of interviews and documentary analysis, and health as a policy case study, the authors document three key techniques that opponents use to undermine the semester's governance architecture: broadening goals, expanding the scope of conflict, and disputing and nuancing indicators. The result is that opponents of a narrow fiscal governance agenda are again successfully undermining the narrow focus of the semester.

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