Termites of solidarity in the house of austerity: Undermining fiscal governance in the European Union

Scott L. Greer, Eleanor Brooks

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


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 EU over member state health policies as detailed as medical school admissions and the role of primary care. We should expect 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, we 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.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-22
JournalJournal of Health Politics, Policy and Law
Volumenot available
Early online date14 Oct 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 14 Oct 2020


  • European Semester
  • policy cycling
  • European Union
  • austerity
  • fiscal governance


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