The Commission's Proposal for a European Minister of Economy and Finance: Institutional Empowerment, Constitutional Tensions and the Ministerial Taboo
27 Pages Posted: 11 Jun 2018
Date Written: May 24, 2018
This paper analyses the Commission’s proposal for establishing a European Minister of Economy and Finance from a constitutional and governance point of view. It discusses to what extent the position deserves the name ‘Minister’ by drawing comparisons with the powers normally exercised by finance Ministers at national and federal levels. Furthermore, it examines whether the current regime enables combining two functions (Eurogroup President and Commission’s Vice-President) and what impact may this governance model have on the Union’s institutional balance. The paper also engages with two questions pertaining to judicial protection; namely whether a Commissioner presiding over the Eurogroup may, first, have an impact on the justiciability of the Eurogroup’s output under Article 263(1) TFEU, and second, give rise to the Commission’s non- contractual liability under Article 340(2) TFEU. Finally, it presents some preliminary thoughts on the kind and intensity of political accountability to which the Minister can be subjected. The paper argues that the proposal neither provides for the transfer of substantial powers to this new position nor reduces meaningfully the complexity that characterises the current allocation of competences in the field of economic policy. Yet, establishing this new position is capable to produce benefits in other aspects. First, the Minister could enhance the Commission’s influence in the euro area, hence contributing to bridging the gap caused by the euro area’s differentiated integration, which has been widened in the post-Lisbon era. Moreover, the setting up of a new Minister may shape the function and governance of existing Union institutions and also trigger a process leading to their gradual transformation. By assigning its leadership to a person whose one foot stands on solid supranational grounds, this reform shakes the Eurogroup’s intergovernmental foundations. In addition, the Minister has the potential of empowering the euro area’s ability to shape Union policies at the Commission’s level.
Keywords: EU Finance Minister, Economic and Monetary Union, Governance, Judicial Protection, European Commission, Eurogroup
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation