Monetary Policy: An Exclusive Competence Only in Name?

28 Pages Posted: 10 Feb 2017

See all articles by Michael Waibel

Michael Waibel

University of Cambridge - Faculty of Law; Lauterpacht Centre for International Law; University of Cambridge - Jesus College

Date Written: February 1, 2017


Monetary policy for those Members whose currency is the Euro is one of European Union's few formally exclusive competences. Yet despite formal allocation of monetary policy competence to the Union, this chapter argues that the practice of monetary policy decision-making reflects the EU's nation-state structure. It tells us one side of the story about the balance of power for the conduct of monetary policy. If exclusive competence at bottom means that member states have no say in devising policy, then monetary policy, is not at present a genuinely exclusive competence.

Instead, the chapter contends that monetary policy is an exclusive competence of the EU in name only. At the very least, the position is more nuanced than the label of exclusive competence suggests.

The first section compares competence for monetary policy with related areas, specifically economic policy, and closely connected thereto, education, health, labour and social policy. It also briefly discussed how the Eurozone crisis has affected the vertical balance of responsibilities between the EU and its member states in these areas. The second section examines the asymmetric allocation of competence for economic and monetary policy, and the fuzzy boundary between the two, through the prism of the two key Eurozone crisis cases before the CJEU, Pringle and Gauweiler. The third section examines why, contrary to first appearances, the EU does not at present have a genuine exclusive competence for monetary policy.

Keywords: Economic and Monetary Union, European Central Bank, Eurosystem, monetary policy, Outright Monetary Transactions, quantitative easing, Pringle, Gauweiler

JEL Classification: E42, E58, K39

Suggested Citation

Waibel, Michael, Monetary Policy: An Exclusive Competence Only in Name? (February 1, 2017). University of Cambridge Faculty of Law Research Paper No. 11/2017. Available at SSRN: or

Michael Waibel (Contact Author)

University of Cambridge - Faculty of Law ( email )

10 West Road
Cambridge, CB3 9DZ
United Kingdom

Lauterpacht Centre for International Law ( email )

5 Cranmer Road
Cambridge, CB3 9BL
United Kingdom

University of Cambridge - Jesus College ( email )

Jesus Lane
Cambridge, CB5 8BL
United Kingdom

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