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Book

Edited by Dermot Hodson and John Peterson

The Institutions of the European Union explains the functions, powers, and composition of the European Union institutions. From the Council of Ministers to the European Central Bank, all of the most important organisations are analysed and explained. Updates for the fourth edition include discussions of the impact of the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty and the financial crisis in the Eurozone on the EU’s institutions, as well as the rise of Euroscepticism. Authoritative yet accessible, it remains the best guide to how this range of different bodies work together to provide political direction, manage policies, and integrate contrasting interests within the European Union. Each chapter includes helpful features such as boxes, websites, and suggested further reading to aid learning.

Chapter

This chapter examines how the European Central Bank (ECB) has taken on new and controversial roles in relation to crisis management and financial supervision in the wake of the eurozone crisis. It also considers how the ECB’s transformation has encouraged a new wave of institutional theorizing about the Bank, placing emphasis, among other things, on the importance of credible commitments, path-dependence, strategic discourse, and the changing politics of European integration. The chapter first provides an overview of the ECB’s mandate and tasks before discussing its decision-making bodies. It then describes the ECB’s institutional design as well as its response to the euro crisis, along with various theories that explain the crisis, including historical institutionalism and the rational choice institutionalist perspective. The chapter concludes by assessing concerns about the ECB’s legitimacy.

Chapter

11. The institutions of Economic and Monetary Union:  

from the euro crisis to COVID-19

Dermot Hodson

Since 1999, a subset of EU member states—known collectively as the euro area—has delegated exclusive competence for monetary policy to the European Central Bank (ECB), while giving limited powers to the European Commission, ECOFIN, and the Eurogroup in other areas of economic policy. The euro crisis provided the first major test of the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU), as a sovereign debt crisis spread between member states and threatened to tear the single currency apart. The ECB and two new institutions—the European Stability Mechanism and Euro Summit—helped to keep the euro area together but at significant economic and political cost. EU institutions were better prepared for the initial economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, but the crisis still produced important institutional changes. The COVID-19 recovery fund Next Generation EU gives the Commission and Council a major new role in economic policy, albeit a temporary one for now. The EMU illustrates three key dimensions of EU institutional politics: the tension between intergovernmental versus supranational institutions, leaders versus followers, and legitimacy versus contestation. It also reveals the explanatory power of new institutionalism among other theoretical perspectives.

Chapter

7. Policy-Making under Economic and Monetary Union  

Crisis, Change, and Continuity

Dermot Hodson

This chapter examines the role of the economic and monetary union (EMU) in the European Union’s macroeconomic policy-making. As of 2015, nineteen members of the euro area have exchanged national currencies for the euro and delegated responsibility for monetary policy and financial supervision to the European Central Bank (ECB). EMU is a high-stakes experiment in new modes of EU policy-making insofar as the governance of the euro area relies on alternatives to the traditional Community method, including policy coordination, intensive transgovernmentalism, and delegation to de novo bodies. The chapter first provides an overview of the origins of the EMU before discussing the launch of the single currency and the sovereign debt crisis. It also considers variations on the Community method, taking into account the ECB and the European Stability Mechanism.

Chapter

7. Economic and Monetary Union  

An Enduring Experiment?

Dermot Hodson

This chapter examines the role of the economic and monetary union (EMU) in the European Union’s macroeconomic policy-making. As of 2015, nineteen members of the euro area have exchanged national currencies for the euro and delegated responsibility for monetary policy and financial supervision to the European Central Bank (ECB). EMU is a high-stakes experiment in new modes of EU policy-making insofar as the governance of the euro area relies on alternatives to the traditional Community method, including policy coordination, intensive transgovernmentalism, and delegation to de novo bodies. The chapter first provides an overview of the origins of the EMU before discussing the launch of the single currency, the sovereign debt crisis, and economic responses to Covid-19. It also considers variations on the Community method, taking into account the ECB and the European Stability Mechanism.