Contemporary history of Europe

The Werner Report: Principles, Values and Challenges for a Europe Built through Currency

The work of the Werner Committee, which in October 1970 resulted in a plan for an economic and monetary union (the Werner Report), was characterised by political and doctrinal differences between ‘economists’ and ‘monetarists’. At issue was the question of whether monetary integration was the means or the ultimate goal of economic integration. On one side, there were the ‘monetarists‘ (whose standard-bearers were the countries with weak currencies – France, Belgium and, to a certain extent, Italy), who argued for ‘institutions‘. The priority should be to set up institutions and lay down requirements to be met. After that, there would be a coordinating of economic policies, driven forward by concerted action on the single currency which would already exist. The only way to give any credibility to the prospect of monetary union and influence the behavior of players in the economy was to set a timetable and lay down some rules of conduct. On the other side were the ‘economists‘ (the countries with strong currencies – Germany and the Netherlands). According to them, a convergence of economic policies — monetary and budgetary policies — was vital and must come before the setting up of institutions. A single currency would come only at the end of the process, as the ‘finishing touch‘ to a harmonization which would already have been carried out. This dispute was ultimately resolved by the adoption of a parallel approach between economic cooperation and monetary coordination in the Member States, a principle of balance on the basis of which Pierre Werner (Prime Minister of Luxembourg and chairman of the expert committee) was able to secure a consensus.

This paper makes extensive use of Pierre Werner’s previously unpublished archives and original interviews, adopting an interdisciplinary approach in order to analyse the negotiations within the Werner Committee by examining the relationships between the members of the group, the emergence of their views on EMU, their political commitment to a European currency, the similarities and differences between their ideas, their personal networks, the influence of the states they represented, their theoretical and methodological input and their contribution to the political consensus. The paper demonstrates how transnational, network-based cooperation led to the emergence of a monetary elite, which had a significant influence both on the transfer of political ideas and solutions within the Member States and also on the decision-making process at supranational level in the area of European economic and monetary integration in the 1970s. Elite transnational networks and the consensuses they reinforce, cultivate, and disseminate, are critical to our understanding of progress and change in world politics.

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