Introduction to the special issue on the institutional balance and the future of the EU governance: the future of the union and the trap of the "nirvana fallacy"

L. Cram

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


The question of the “institutional balance” strikes at the very core of what the European Union is and where it is headed. In Declaration 23 of the Treaty of Nice, member states committed themselves to launching “a deeper and wider debate about the future of the Union” (point 3). As the articles in this volume indicate, in addressing the future of the Union, it is crucial that member states and the institutions dispel the myths upon which some of the need for reform has been conceived. In any institutional reform process, it is vital that the architects of reform avoid what Demsetz has referred to as the “Nirvana fallacy.” In examining the institutional balance(s) in the EU and addressing the future of the Union, it is important that the realities of contemporary praxis are fully understood and that unrealistic goals are avoided. The EU can no more be expected to conform to some mythical ideal of “good governance” than can the member states of which it is constituted.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)309-324
Number of pages16
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2002


  • european union
  • nirvana fallacy
  • governance

Cite this