LEVIATHAN

About the project

While the euro crisis has had a transformative effect on the functional ambitions of the EU, it has also transformed the ways in which citizens can hold the EU institutions accountable. In the area of economic governance, the EU has created a significant new body of fiscal rules, managed largely by executive institutions. The nature of these rules, and the institutions entrusted to manage them, challenge our existing scientific understanding of accountability, creating considerable confusion as to how economic decision making in an EU context can be properly scrutinised.

LEVIATHAN is devoted to addressing the EU’s 'post-crisis' accountability challenge in economic governance. It is designed to provide the first comprehensive, multi-disciplinary attempt at considering how the EU’s decisions in the economic field can be challenged, either by political institutions or individuals seeking judicial review. It further combines legal analysis of decisions by national and EU courts with qualitative research on the political and functional constraints within which institutions reviewing economic decisions operate. By mapping emerging accountability relationships, LEVIATHAN aims to build scientifically-informed recommendations on how to improve EU accountability in the future.

Areas of focus

  • Budgetary coordination
  • Banking supervision
  • Fiscal councils
  • The European semester
  • Financial assistance
  • National parliaments
  • Court of Justice of the European Union
  • National constitutional courts
  • EU institutions

LEVIATHAN research is divided into 4 work packages:

Work Package 1 | Holding accountable the EU’s executive

Work Package 1 examines the role of EU executive bodies in post-crisis economic governance and the extent to which their decision-making is subject to accountability mechanisms. The focus is on the empowerment and corresponding creation of accountability relationships for both supranational and intergovernmental institutions: the European Central Bank (ECB), the European Banking Authority (EBA) and the European Commission on the one hand, and the European Council, the Economic and Financial Affairs Council (ECOFIN), and the Eurogroup on the other hand. The analysis centres on the functioning of two key reforms introduced during the crisis – the Single Supervisory Mechanism (SSM) as the system of banking supervision in the euro area and the European Semester as the framework for economic policy coordination of all EU member states. The LEVIATHAN team member responsible for Work Package 1 is Adina Maricut-Akbik.

Work Package 2 | The role of the Court of Justice and national constitutional courts

Work Package 2 examines the role of the Court of Justice and national constitutional courts in post-crisis economic governance and their role in accountability mechanisms. More particularly, the work package will seek to determine what is the role of judicial review in ensuring accountability of decision-makers in EU economic governance; and consequently, has judicial review influenced decision-making in EU economic governance (and if yes, how). It will aim to show the interplay between EU and national models of decision-making and accountability, in order to create a comprehensive starting point in devising an improved proposal for reform freed from pre-existing national/supranational/intergovernmental conceptions. The dynamic approach will also capture differing ways of creating, implementing and controlling the mechanisms of economic governance. The LEVIATHAN team member responsible for Work Package 2 is Ana Bobić.

Work Package 3 | The role of national parliaments in holding the EU accountable

Work Package 3 explores the role of national parliaments in holding the EU accountable. More specifically, it focuses on the mechanisms the parliaments can use to scrutinize the decisions of the EU institutions, mainly the European Commission, taken within the framework of the European Semester - the annual cycle of fiscal and economic surveillance. On the other hand, this package will investigate how the various institutions of the post-crisis EU economic governance, for instance fiscal councils, affected the ability of legislatures to scrutinize their governments. Consequently, budgetary accountability will be analyzed in a holistic way in order to examine how the parliaments can be informed and how they can demand justification and consequences for the decisions affecting national budgets made at both supranational and domestic level.  The LEVIATHAN team member responsible for Work Package 3 is Tomasz P. Woźniakowski

Work package 4 | The future of accountability in EU economic decision-making

Work package 4 will build on the empirical work developed in the Leviathan project’s work packages to examine how the practice of EU economic governance can be reconciled with the EU’s constitutional commitment to legal and political accountability. It will focus on two elements. Firstly, it will identify appropriate standards and concepts for accountability that reflect the functions EU institutions in the economic field undertake. Secondly, the work package will focus on future perspectives, examining how gaps in the EU’s accountability structure could be remedied by institutional or substantive reforms. The goal of the research is to improve our scientific understanding of how the EU’s accountability structure could evolve to meet new economic functions.

Funding

This project has received 1.2 million Euros in funding from the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (grant agreement No 716923).

Duration

2017 - 2021

Project lead

  • Mark Dawson, Professor of European Law and Governance