Out of the comfort zone? The ECB, financial assistance, independence and accountability

Paul Dermine*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The European debt crisis (Eurozone crisis) precipitated an unprecedented reconfiguration of the institutional architecture of the Economic and Monetary Union. At the core of such overhaul was the establishment of a financial assistance function specific to the Eurozone. From the outset, there has been a clear will to closely involve the European Central Bank (ECB) at all stages of the operation of this new function. The ECB, an institution endowed with a monetary mandate, has thus entered the field of economic policy. Against that background, this paper intends to investigate the legal and political accountability arrangements the ECB is subject to in that new context. Both the texts organizing the intervention of the ECB and its subsequent practice reveal, so the paper will show, that the ECB’s action in that particular context is mainly conceived as falling under its monetary mandate, and thus as being covered by its independence. The paper will argue that this situation is legally problematic, especially in view of the deep interpenetration between the economic and the monetary policy fields and the redistributive effects of the choices made. It will also claim that the ECB’s independence in that particular context, and the accountability structures it is subject to, should be adjusted.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)68-81
Number of pages13
JournalMaastricht Journal of European and Comparative Law
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • European Central Bank
  • Troïka
  • financial assistance
  • economic conditionality
  • accountability
  • independence

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