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The Role of the EU in the Reform of the Bretton Woods Institutions

Much has been written about the need for major governance reform of the Bretton Woods institutions whose representation structures are outdated and no longer accurately reflect the distribution of power in the global economy. Discussions in advance of the autumn IMF/World Bank annual meeting to be held in Singapore have been strongly focused on the issue of quota reallocation, with a well articulated US preference for a reallocation of votes towards some large emerging market countries at the expense of European representation.

This paper examines both the positions of individual member states on the topic of European coordination by analysing internal and external pressures for embracing governance change, as well as identifying windows of policy opportunity that exist in the coming period to achieve change. It suggests that the sequencing of US pressure for quota reallocation is poorly aligned with European priorities, and that waiting even a relatively short period of time (e.g. less than one year) would make it easier for a more substantial realignment of European representation and therefore global governance reform.
Lauren Phillips