The aim of this book is to explore the preconditions of a European political economy. The establishment of the monetary union and the European Central Bank constitutes a major step towards greater economic, social and political integration between the Member States of the European Union, and is therefore a momentous event in European history. What do the historically given preconditions of a European political economy mean in practice and theory in terms of future possibilities? With a historical perspective on European monetary integration, from the strains in the dollar-based Bretton Woods order in the 1960s and earlier, the Werner Plan around 1970, and the internal market in the 1980s to the Maastricht Treaty in 1992, future prospects of EMU are discussed. The book is based on the reflections of a working group at the European University Institute in Florence in operation from 1999 to 2001. The fifteen chapters are organised in clusters on the historical and conceptual setting, on financial institutions and economic theory, on social practices and legal framework, and on future prospects. Historians, philosophers, economists, political scientists and sociologists contribute to this interdisciplinary attempt to come to terms with both the preconditions and the prospects of EMU.