Legal reform

Further development of the EMU – should legitimacy come first or last?

schrank-castleBy Päivi Leino-Sandberg

The June 2012 European Council adopted a report setting out ‘four essential building blocks’ for the future Economic and Monetary Union (EMU): an integrated financial framework, an integrated budgetary framework, an integrated economic policy framework and, finally, strengthened democratic legitimacy and accountability (1). In its discussions, the European Council stressed that:
Throughout the process, the general objective remains to ensure democratic legitimacy and accountability at the level at which decisions are taken and implemented. Any new steps towards strengthening economic governance will need to be accompanied by further steps towards stronger legitimacy and accountability. (2)

Discussing the space to think in the context of the European Council

ceulogo_0_1Does transparency come at the expensive of efficient decision-making? The case for a trade-off between and open and efficient decision-making has certainly been made on innumerable occasions. But whether it is in fact well grounded has, surprisingly, been subjected to rather limited systematic scrutiny.

Political scientist Stéphanie Novak (Université Catholique en Lille) and Open Government in the EU researcher Maarten Hillebrandt (University of Amsterdam) have now begun to systematically explore the case for a non-transparent “space to think” that is systematically invoked by the European Council, and Council – purportedly in order to safeguard the efficiency of their respective decision-making processes. They will present a paper on this topic at a workshop on the centrality of European Council and Council decision-making organised by the Central European University, Budapest.

The European Council has increasingly come to the fore as a constitutionally anomalous yet powerful executive institution of the European Union. This has aroused an increasing interest from the social scientific and legal researchers, among them the researchers of the Open Government in the EU research group, who investigate its transparency and accountability arrangements (see more under publications). -MH