Has the crisis led to a marginalisation of the EU institutions? – Interview with Dr. Daniela Schwarzer

Jun 25th, 2010 | Category: Interviews

Daniela Schwarzer, (Dr.), German Institute for International and Security Affairs

June 12 2010

ELIAMEP: Dr. Schwarzer, thank you very much for giving us this short interview for ELIAMEP’s blog, and welcome once again to ELIAMEP’s 7th Annual European Seminars. The question I have for you is the following: “For many this crisis has led to a marginilisation of the EU institutions and a stronger turn to intergovernmentalism. Do you agree?

Daniela Schwarzer: Well, in the first phase of the crisis we clearly saw a very strong rule for the most federal European Institution that was the European Central Bank, in the management of the financial market instabilities. But then, when it came to the real economic crisis we saw that the member states went about their own stabilization programme. It was very difficult to get a European approach to the question of how much fiscal stimulus is necessary. The European Commission at the time was trying to push the idea to have a European stimulus, a stronger one and in the end it managed to get a 5 billion euros stimulus package but at the time, indeed, the analysis was that the member states were rather doing what they wanted to do, they didn’t work in a European perspective. Now, we have the phase of discussing the reform of the Eurozone to solve the debt crisis we are living through right now. And the current reform debate in my view will not lead to stronger European Institutions in the sense of giving an extremely strong leap forward towards a political Union but we will see a strengthening of rules, of fiscal rules, rules of coordinating economic policy and, indeed, in the end we might have more Europe in that regard.

ELIAMEP: So do you think there is a contrast to be made between the roles of the European Commission, the European Parliament and the European Central Bank that you mentioned before?

Daniela Schwarzer: Yes, the European Central Bank clearly had the strongest role in the first phase of the crisis and it has increased over time because now the ECB is involved in surveilling budgetary policies in some countries. For instance [in the case of]Greece [this is taking place] in a stronger degree than it used to and also the ECB is buying Greek bonds which means that is also part of the stabilization approach to the Greek fiscal problems. The European Commission is gaining importance right now first of all because of the change of treaty base. The entering into force of the Lisbon treaty, gives the European Commission a formal and stronger role in fiscal policy coordination and economic policy coordination and has been very active in the reform debate. The Commission put forward a proposal for Eurozone reform on the 12th of May and the proposals that were in there are now the basis of the discussion of the so called Federal Point Taskforce which is working on the reform of the Eurozone. The European Parliament is active in many ways, in drawing conclusions from the economic and financial crisis. First of all informally, it is of course a closed dialogue. There is the monetary dialogue with the ECB president, there is a dialogue with Eurogroup president but also the European Parliament is involved in legislative procedures. There is a decision procedure running for setting up a European Financial Supervision Structure and the European Parliament is a full player here and the same will be true for further legislative action regarding financial market regulation.