Supranational Agents as De-Commitment Devices: The ECB During the Eurozone Crisis

20 Pages Posted: 25 Mar 2020

See all articles by Philipp Genschel

Philipp Genschel

European University Institute

Tobias Tesche

University of Amsterdam; European Central Bank

Date Written: February 21, 2020


We argue that the independent agency of EU institutions can serve not only to tie the member states to previous policy commitments, as argued in the extant literature, but also to untie member states from commitments that have become outdated and harmful. The European Central Bank saved the Euro in 2012 not by enforcing the monetary financing prohibition or the no-bail-out clause of the Treaty more strictly but by flouting them. We develop our de-commitment account of supranational agency theoretically, show its workings empirically by a case study of the Eurozone crisis, and discuss its scope conditions. We surmise that supranational de-commitment is a common feature of EU politics.

Suggested Citation

Genschel, Philipp and Tesche, Tobias, Supranational Agents as De-Commitment Devices: The ECB During the Eurozone Crisis (February 21, 2020). Amsterdam Centre for European Studies Research Paper No. 2020/02, Available at SSRN: or

Philipp Genschel (Contact Author)

European University Institute ( email )

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133 via Bocaccio
Firenze (Florence), Tuscany 50014
+39 055 4685 735 (Phone)

Tobias Tesche

University of Amsterdam ( email )

Roetersstraat 11
Amsterdam, NE 1018 WB

European Central Bank

Sonnemannstrasse 22
Frankfurt am Main, 60314

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