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In Capital We Trust: The Eurozone: A Congeries of Material Norms Without a Constitution?

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Abstract

This chapter reconstructs the content of the key norms and practices constituting and disciplining public power in the Eurozone. On the one hand, the fundamental substantive norms uphold the primacy of private property, entrepreneurial freedom and sound money. On the other hand, a series of procedural norms fragment, enervate and pulverise the power held by representative institutions and decision-making processes, and result in the selective empowerment of collectives of executives, central banks and key actors in the financial sector. The abstract and concrete weight assigned to economic freedoms, the multiplication of decision-making procedures alternative to representative decision-making, and the entrenchment of structural biases in favour of private property and entrepreneurial freedom have largely “taken the risk out of democracy” by fragmenting, enervating and pulverising public power.

Keywords

  • Constitutional law
  • European law
  • Capitalism
  • Economic freedoms

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Notes

  1. 1.

    It is the latter that may render necessary strong and massive public intervention to guarantee and eventually restore the stability of the financial system; in operative terms, its liquidity).

  2. 2.

    Directive 2014/59/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 15 May 2014 establishing a framework for the recovery and resolution of credit institutions and investment firms and amending Council Directive 82/891/EEC, and Directives 2001/24/EC, 2002/47/EC, 2004/25/EC, 2005/56/EC, 2007/36/EC, 2011/35/EU, 2012/30/EU and 2013/36/EU, and Regulations (EU) No 1093/2010 and (EU) No 648/2012, of the European Parliament and of the Council Text with EEA relevance, OJ L 173, 12.6.2014, pp. 190–348.

  3. 3.

    Regulation (EU) No 806/2014 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 15 July 2014 establishing uniform rules and a uniform procedure for the resolution of credit institutions and certain investment firms in the framework of a Single Resolution Mechanism and a Single Resolution Fund and amending Regulation (EU) No 1093/2010, OJ L 225, 30.7.2014, pp. 1–90.

  4. 4.

    Indeed, the norms, institutions and mechanisms through public authorities organised their economic activity (public enterprises) or regulated private economic activity were deeply inter-twinned with the norms, institutions and mechanisms through which national borders were made and maintained. This was why the point of European integration was not to get rid of borders per se, and certainly not in one stroke, but rather to reconfigure them.

  5. 5.

    The key role of the Council of Ministers, the intergovernmental under currents in the composition and operation of the Commission, and in the composition of the European Court of Justice, reflected the extent to which the legitimacy of European integration had to be derived from the democratic legitimacy of national institutions, very critically, of executives supported and controlled by democratically elected parliaments. From this perspective, the Luxembourg compromise only reinforced a pattern that was part of constitutional and political design of the European communities.

  6. 6.

    Council Directive 88/361/EEC of 24 June 1988 for the implementation of Article 67 of the Treaty, OJ L 178, 8.7.1988, pp. 5–18.

  7. 7.

    Whether this is the result of growing trust on the cumulated “technical” knowledge of the ECB, or rather signals mounting distrust in representative institutions or more simply, the lack of political agreement on how to organise the prudential supervision of Eurozone banks is rather immaterial.

  8. 8.

    The Irish Act is available at http://www.oireachtas.ie/viewdoc.asp?fn=/documents/bills28/acts/2008/a1808.pdf. See also Carswell (2010).

  9. 9.

    Article 108.3 TEEC determined the procedure to follow in a balance of payments crisis. It foresaw either multilateral financial assistance, or lacking an agreement to provide it, opened the way to Member States imposing (temporary and proportionate) unilateral restrictions on trade.

  10. 10.

    Council Decision (EU) 2015/1601 of 22 September 2015 establishing provisional measures in the area of international protection for the benefit of Italy and Greece, OJ L 248, of 24.09.2015, 80–94.

  11. 11.

    The usual line of reasoning goes as follows. Once states can be outvoted because the will of the Council is formed through qualified majority voting (that is, since the Single European Act), there is a loss in indirect democratic legitimacy. See Weiler (1999, pp. 68–80 and 232).

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Menéndez, A.J. (2020). In Capital We Trust: The Eurozone: A Congeries of Material Norms Without a Constitution?. In: Nogueira de Brito, M., Pereira Coutinho, L. (eds) The Political Dimension of Constitutional Law. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-38459-3_9

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