Abstract:

This working paper revisits the analytical concept of preference formation in light of the experience and knowledge gained from the first phase of the EMU Choices project. Through problematizing the notion of preference formation as advanced by liberal intergovernmentalism –the baseline framework of first-round research under the project – the paper contributes to the analytical and theoretical discussion within the EMU Choices project and highlights questions for second round research and further in-depth analysis. To this end the working paper critically engages with classic literature on preference formation and with recent contributions on the euro crisis, which implicitly or explicitly refer to the concept of preference formation. Existing scholarly contributions are reviewed according to four different conceptual dimensions. Each is centered on a different analytical puzzle. It is concluded that the notion of preference formation as an insulated process within the domestic arena requires adaptation. First, EU-level policy dialogue needs to be considered as a standalone input to processes of preference formation at the national level. This is due to the close integration of domestic decision-making elites into a collective European euro area executive. Second, problems in domestic preference formation, such as the lack of preference articulation, difficulties in preference aggregation and interrupted feedback loops between societal interests and government decision-making, need to be scrutinized more closely.