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Smoke with fire: Financial crises and the demand for parliamentary oversight in the European Union

Federica Genovese () and Gerald Schneider ()
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Federica Genovese: University of Essex
Gerald Schneider: University of Konstanz

The Review of International Organizations, 2020, vol. 15, issue 3, No 4, 633-665

Abstract: Abstract The handling of the 2008 financial crisis has reinforced the conviction that the European Union (EU) is undemocratic and that member states are forced to delegate overwhelming power to a supranational technocracy. However, European countries have engaged with this alleged power drift differently, with only a few member states demanding more parliamentary scrutiny of EU institutions. This article develops a political economy explanation for why only some states have enforced mechanisms to monitor the EU more closely. Our theory focuses on the role of the crisis and the impact of fiscal autonomy in countries outside and inside currency arrangements such as the European Economic and Monetary Union (EMU). We argue that, in the aftermath of a severe economic shock, member states outside the EMU possess more monetary and fiscal resources to handle the crisis. These would then demand oversight of EU decision-making if their fiscal sustainability depends on the Union. By contrast, Eurozone states that need policy changes cannot address the crisis independently or initiate reforms to scrutinize the EU. Hence, we argue that during the heated moments of severe economic downturns, parliaments in Eurozone countries discuss supranational supervision rarely. As these legislatures have nevertheless to give in to the popular demand for EU control, they express support for more EU supervision in the infrequent times of debate. We provide evidence for our theory with a cross-national analysis of EU oversight institutions, and a new original dataset of parliamentary debates during the Eurozone crisis. Our findings highlight the political consequences that financial nosedives have across the diverse membership of a supranational organization.

Keywords: EU politics; Financial crises; Euro crisis; National parliaments; Parliamentary scrutiny (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2020
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DOI: 10.1007/s11558-020-09383-0

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