Open Access Journal

ISSN: 2183-2463

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No Borrowing Without Taxing? Fiscal Solidarity of Next Generation EU in Light of the American Experience

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Abstract:  This article argues that the EU response to the pandemic, the Next Generation EU (NGEU), dubbed a “Hamiltonian moment” for Europe, can be better understood if compared to the US under the Articles of Confederation. The key aspect of the original Hamiltonian moment was the assumption of states’ debts after the Union was given tax power. None of this happened with the NGEU. The EU was not given any significant new sources of revenue, apart from some environmental levies, and was only allowed to borrow more on the financial markets to finance new fiscal solidarity mechanisms. In the US, this kind of borrowing power gave rise to monetary financing of the debt and enormous inflation. Instead of backing the enlarged borrowing powers with a fiscalization process leading to tax powers, the EU created a hybrid system of temporary, limited quasi-fiscalization in the form of the NGEU, which has legitimacy gaps. Simultaneously, the EU introduced enhanced fiscal regulation with conditionalities in the form of the new European Semester (an annual EU cycle of economic and fiscal coordination) tied to the allocation of the NGEU funds. Additionally, the EU has only promised to work in the future on various forms of revenue needed to pay the new debt. Hence, I will show that the NGEU could be better described as a “Morrisian moment” for Europe, as Robert Morris, the superintendent of finance of the US (1781–1784), was the very first finance minister of a similar kind of a union, with the power to borrow but no power to tax, governed by the unanimity rule in fiscal matters, which led to the failure of his proposals for national revenue.

Keywords:  central fiscal capacity; comparative federalism; democratic legitimacy; economic governance; fiscal federalism; fiscal soli‐ darity; fiscal union; fiscalization process; tax power



© Tomasz P. Wozniakowski. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (, which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.