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Taming the Leviathan? Legal and Political Accountability in 'Post-Crisis' EU Economic Governance

Periodic Reporting for period 3 - LEVIATHAN (Taming the Leviathan? Legal and Political Accountability in 'Post-Crisis' EU Economic Governance)

Reporting period: 2020-08-01 to 2022-01-31

The project's starting point is that the Euro crisis challenged the EU’s existing accountability model, removing many of the EU's traditional pathways of legal and political accountability without substituting new models in their place. In order to combat dangerous economic imbalances, the crisis has seen far greater powers provided to EU level executive institutions from the Commission to the ECB to supervise national budgets and regulate financial institutions. This rise in executive power has been accompanied by new challenges for parliaments at the national and EU levels. Finally, many elements of the Union’s new economic governance have been established through ad-hoc decisions or international agreements, which may offer EU citizens a lower level of judicial protection.

In light of this, the overall objective of LEVIATHAN is to determine how ‘post-crisis’ EU economic governance has altered the EU’s existing accountability structures, and examine how decisions under EU economic governance can be made more accountable to EU citizens. The project comprehensively mapped how citizens can exercise accountability in post-crisis economic governance across different institutional settings, illustrating that traditional avenues of parliamentary scrutiny are increasingly complemented by alternatives, such as judicial review. As our project argues, while many mechanisms exist to hold EU economic actors responsible for the process of their decision-making, EMU lacks substantive accountability i.e. accountability for the worth or merit of policy decisions. The need for greater substantive accountability is heightened by recent challenges (such as the Covid crisis and the increasingly re-distributive nature of the Eurozone economy).
Work package 1
Adina Maricut-Akbik was responsible for WP 1 ‘Holding Accountable the EU’s Economic Executive.’ This WP investigated the political accountability of the EU’s economic executive, the ability of the European Parliament (EP) to hold accountable the European Central Bank (ECB), the European Commission, the ECOFIN Council, and the Eurogroup. In 2022, Adina published the research monograph envisaged for Work Package 1 with a prestigious publisher, Cambridge University Press. She also published a number of other peer reviewed articles developing and applying claims analysis as a means of analysing legislative oversight. Adina organized the first stakeholder workshop of the project including national/EU judges and high-level ECB officials, and was invited for talks at the ECB and EP. The workshop additionally resulted in a policy paper on banking supervision.

Work package 2
Ana Bobić is responsible for WP 2 'Differentiated accountability?'. As a legal scholar, Ana examined the role of the Court of Justice and national constitutional courts in post-crisis economic governance and their role in accountability mechanisms. Ana's monograph, which is forthcoming with Cambridge University Press in 2022, seeks to determine the position of the individual and her ability to make use of existing routes of legal accountability in EU economic governance post-crisis. It looks in particular at judicial review of the European Stability Mechanism (ESM); judicial review of monetary policy instruments of the ECB; and its application of the Single Supervisory Mechanism (SSM). Ultimately, the monograph resulting from this work package seeks to determine the current patterns of legal accountability in EU economic governance post-crisis and explore its flaws. Ana also published two co-authored articles, presented at numerous academic conferences and published two further book chapters.

Work package 3
Tomasz P. Woźniakowski is responsible for WP 3 ‘Economic Accountability and Domestic Institutions’. As a political scientist and historian, he examined the economic accountability of domestic institutions, specifically the extent to which national parliaments (NPs) can hold accountable executives at the supranational and national levels. The NPs study resulted in a special issue of a peer reviewed journal devoted to this topic, a policy paper, and a number of forthcoming book chapters. Tomasz was also invited for the workshops on the future of EMU of the European Commission and to deliver talks at academic conferences. Together with the PI, he prepared the project's second workshop on parliamentary accountability of EU economic governance which took place in December 2020. By focusing on the interactions between NPs and executive actors in the European Semester, this workshop discussed new modes of accountability in this policy area bringing together scholars from political science and law (resulting in a special issue comparing accountability relationships across NPs).

Work package 4
Mark Dawson is responsible for WP 4 ‘The Future of Accountability in EU Economic Decision-making’. The goal of the WP is to draw on the empirical findings of the other work packages with a view to future perspectives for the accountability of EU governance. A first part of this work was theoretical, understanding how accountability should be understood in an economic context, and developing accountability standards. A second part has been applied, examining how these accountability standards are understood within specific EU economic institutions, examining the resulting gaps between the EU’s increasing functional ambitions and its constitutional commitments. To meet these goals, the project has published 3 co-authored papers, one unpacking the theoretical distinction between substantive and procedural understandings accountability and applying this to the accountability of the ECB; and two others, developing a 'normative goods' framework for disaggregating accountability claims and assessing the future of EMU accountability in light of the shift from what we term a regulatory to 'para-regulatory' state framework. Reflecting the inter-disciplinary nature of the research team, these articles were published in leading inter-disciplinary journals (e.g. ELJ, JEPP and Regulation & Governance respectively).
Finally, the project has also had a number of over-arching outputs that will continue this year. We have regularly invited high-level speakers to present on accountability and EU governance themes at a colloquium series on EU governance organised in Berlin. The project team has presented their ongoing work at several occasions in this series receiving feedback from colleagues working in law and political and social sciences. This series, and the project’s other dissemination activities, will continue in 2022 as the project's final publications are produced. Lastly, the project held a final conference, featuring high-level scholars working on accountability within and outside EMU in September 2021. The papers presented by these scholars, along with chapters from each team member, will appear in an edited open access collection with Cambridge University Press in late 2022. The methods and concepts developed in the project - claims analysis, the focus on judicial/political interaction in accountability research, and the concepts of substantive accountability and the para-regulatory state - will remain a focus of the research group, which are currently working on new projects (seeking to extend Leviathan's work beyond EMU and increase its scholarly and societal impact).
Key project illustration - Leviathan