Bruno S. FreyDie falsch konzipierte Europäische Einigung

2.36 Bruno S. Frey, Experimentierfreudiges Europa, Schweizer Monat, Juni 2013, Ausgabe 1007, p. 64-68

[Europe – Keen to experiment?]

a) Background

The text at hand of Bruno Frey can be situated as follows: Frey consistently had a keen interest in describing government and public institutions, including aspects of law, legal institutions and legal culture from the perspective of political economy. Frey always used empirical data as a basis for his analyses. He grew up in this endeavour in the social, political and legal environment of Switzerland. He got used to and is accustomed to look at Switzerland, Swiss government, Swiss economy, as well as Swiss law and institutions through the eyes of a post-World War II internationalized discipline of science of economics, in which the Anglo-Saxon world and English language nowadays dominate. Frey’s research has not been done inward but outward looking and has travelled widely. This is evidenced by a number of honorary degrees on the European continent and his present special chair at Warwick University (UK). In the view of the close relationship between Switzerland and the European community, Frey has looked at the basic structure of construction and its later developments in the past fifty years of the European Union from a critical perspective of a political economist. Bruno S. Frey is an internationally known eminent Swiss economist primarily active in the area of political economy.  He is an emerite of the Univeristy of Zurich and presently active at the University of Warwick and at Zeppelin University Friedrichshafen.
Bruno S. Frey was born in Basel, Switzerland in 1941. He was Professor of Economics at the University of Constance from 1970-77, and Professor of Economics at the University of Zurich between 1977-2012. He was named Distinguished Professor of Behavioural Science at the Warwick Business School at the University of Warwick, UK in 2010. Since 2012 he is Guest Professor at Zeppelin University, Friedrichshafen, Germany. He received an honorary doctorate in economics from the Universities of St. Gallen (Switzerland, 1998), Goeteborg (Sweden, 1998), the Free University of Brussels (Belgium, 2009), the University of Aix-en-Provence/Marseille (France, 2010) and the University of Innsbruck (Austria, 2011). He is a prolific writer; the length of the list of publications would go well beyond the space allotted to the biographical information on the authors. He is the author of numerous articles in professional journals and books, including, Not Just for the Money (1997), Economics as a Science of Human Behaviour (1999), Arts & Economics (2000), Inspiring Economics (2001), Successful Management by Motivation (with Margit Osterloh, 2001), Happiness and Economics (with Alois Stutzer, 2002), Dealing with Terrorism – Stick or Carrot? (2004), Economics and Psychology (co-edited with Alois Stutzer, 2007), Happiness: A Revolution in Economics (2008) and Glück: Die Sicht der Ökonomie (Happiness, the view of economic science) (with Claudia Frey Marti, 2010).
Frey is one of the pioneers in changing the private person of reference of the homo oeconomicus in economic science; he is one of the fathers of outward oriented economic science, nowadays known under the heading of “Aussermarktliche Ökonomie” (extra market economy), or “New political economy” or “New institutionalism.” He applies his methodological approach beyond the traditional topics of the economy such as politics, art, family, conflicts and history. His approach is interdisciplinary; see in his book Economics as a science of Human Behaviour (1999). He applies an economic starting point and perspective to the analysis of phenomena related to artistic activities in “Arts and Economics.” In “Economics” (2000, 2003) he challenges traditional views but also offers an alternative perspective to the sociology of art history. In Happiness and Economics – How the economy and institutions effect human well-being (with Alois Stutzer, 2002) Frey argues, that – curiously – although the economist’s discipline has much to do with human well-being, it has shied away from factoring the study of happiness into its work, possibly arguing that the concept is “unscientific.” This is the first book to empirically establish the link between happiness and economics – and between happiness and democracy. Frey further analyses – together with Gebhard Kirchgässner – the relationship between the economy and the political system and the effects of self-interest-based behaviour of all decision makers, including the consultants of economic policy (see in this text – together with Gebhard Kirchgässner – Demokratische Wirtschaftspolitik, 3rd ed., 2002).

b) Summary

The text at hand is a non-footnoted analysis published in the Swiss journal “Schweizer Monat, 2013.” It is a written transcript of a speech given when Frey was honoured with the Röpke Preis für Zivilgesellschaft des Liberalen Instituts on December, 6th 2012 in Zurich. Frey summarizes the text in an abstract as follows:

“The European unification correctly started with the problem-oriented European coal and steel community. However, the ensuing freedom and free trade projects were exclusively undertaken on the level of nation states. This means that a political frame was chosen, which is largely responsible for the catastrophic wars of the first part of the 20th century.

This contribution proposes an alternative to a European unification based on the nation state. What should matter are the economic and social tasks to be solved. For that purpose, the adequate territorial units must be chosen beyond the existing national borders. The emergence of Endogenous Political Entities (EPE) should be furthered in Europe; the initiative and formation should start from below. To successfully fulfil this task the entities must have fiscal autonomy, i.e. the necessary taxes and expenditures should be determined by the EPE themselves. Such a new orientation of the European unification is immediately possible and unburdens the existing nation states. EPE enable the formation of a dynamic net of political units, corresponding well to the cultural, political and economic variety of Europe.”

We consciously chose this text of an internationally known Swiss economist under the heading: impacts from the perspective of neighbouring humanities and social sciences – literature – history – political economy, similar to the text of Peter Häberle “Werkstatt Schweiz”: Verfassungspolitik im Blick auf das künftige Gesamteuropa” which suggests for European scientists and politicians within tEurope and in particular within European Union to look to Switzerland as a laboratory of constitutional law regarding questions of constructions of European integration. This text gives European scientists and politicians the possibility to note a Swiss author’s analysis and opinion of the basic concept of European integration, which consciously or unconsciously is rooted in his experience of dealing with the Swiss legal and political system from an international economic perspective.

c) Text

You can find a scan (PDF) of the original text here:
E_2.36_FREY_Experimentierfreudiges Europa


© Prof. Jens Drolshammer,,

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