POMFR: What form of government for the European Union and the Eurozone? (Fabbrini et al, eds.; Hart Publishing 2015).

By Daniela Jaros

A couple of months ago, an interesting volume edited by Federico Fabbrini, Ernst Hirsch Ballin and Han Somsen entitled „What form of government for the European Union and the Eurozone?“ appeared on the EU law book market. Containing contributions of many renowned scholars of EU law and EU politics, it seeks to explore the impact of the Euro-crisis on the institutional setting, the distribution of competences and the balance of power as well as issues of legitimacy and accountability within the Eurozone and ultimately within the European Union.

While similar publications have focused on a constitutional analysis of the Eurozone crisis itself, this book is more dedicated to the effects the crisis had on the existing structure of the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) and the EU. It does not only ask questions about the legitimacy and legal basis of the crisis-containment measures (such as the institution of the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF), the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) or the European Central Bank’s (ECB) measures, but puts them into the broader context of further developing the EMU and of fostering democratic legitimacy within the EU.

A careful selection of contributors helps drawing a nuanced picture of possible perspectives on the subject. Nonetheless, a quest for enhancing democratic legitimacy seems to be the red line connecting the contributions. In the first two parts, authors are dedicated to a detailed analysis of shifts in government and governance that have been triggered by the crisis and corresponding developments with regard to accountability and further democratic legitimacy. Intergovernmental policy making, a strong shift towards the executive powers of the Member States individually and collectively and a factual prise de pouvoir by powerful actors such as the ECB are considered to be the most challenging developments resulting from the crisis. Most contributors come to the conclusion that accompanying developments with regard to  accountability have not been sufficient. The third and fourth part of the book therefore start from this conclusion and reflect on possibilities of strengthening representation, participation and accountability from both a practical and a theoretical point of view, before discussing the pros and cons of further parliamentarisation on the European as well as on the Member State levels.

In conclusion, the last part wraps up to some extent the debates and issues brought foreword in the book in three main points: 1) Intergovernmentalism is the de-facto new form of governance for economic policy-making of the Eurozone; 2) the need for more democratic legitimacy, translated in stronger parliamentarism, has been recognised and there are several models to strengthen parliamentary involvement; 3) on a more theoretical level, the Habermasian criticism of the Eurozone being administered in a form of executive federalism has been taken seriously and there is consensus that a “transnational democratic process” would be the solution for many legitimacy questions. However, there are diverging opinions on how such transnational democratic process can be achieved in theory while in practice, not enough progress has been made yet.

Overall, the book gives an excellent account of the debate on the legitimacy of government and governance of the Eurozone and ultimately the EU that took place in the aftermath of the Eurocrisis and contains interesting ideas on how more democratic legitimacy could be achieved, which is why it is definitively worth reading and discussing.

Leave a Reply