Research
11.02.19

Reconciling Independence and Accountability at the European Central Bank: The False Promise of Proceduralism

This article revisits the balancing act between independence and accountability at the European Central Bank (ECB). It contrasts procedural and substantive concepts of accountability, and challenges the mainstream idea that independence and accountability can be reconciled through narrow mandates, the indiscriminate increase of transparency, the creation of multiple channels of accountability, and the active use of judicial review. These assumptions form the pillars of a procedural type of accountability that promises to resolve the independence/accountability dilemma but fails to do so in practice. The article brings evidence to show how ECB accountability has become a complex administrative exercise that focuses on the procedural steps leading up to monetary and supervisory decisions while simultaneously limiting substantive accountability. The failure to acknowledge the trade‐off between independence and accountability (said to be ‘two sides of the same coin’) has resulted in a tendency to privilege the former over the latter.

M Dawson, A Maricut-Akbik, A Bobić, 'Reconciling Independence and Accountability at the European Central Bank: The False Promise of Proceduralism' (2019) 25(1) European Law Journal 75.

Image: CC Steve Collins, source: flickr.com