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The Growing Challenge of Legitimacy Amid Central Bank Independence

Abstract

This chapter analyses the legitimacy of the European Central Bank (ECB) with respect to its independence, demonstrating how the former has been shaped throughout the crisis. It departs from existing definitions of input, output, and “throughput” legitimacy to argue that the core dimensions of the central bank’s legitimacy are procedural and perceptive in nature. It further touches upon the under-appreciate role of so-called folk theories for the ECB’s legitimacy towards the general public. The chapter invokes empirical evidence in the form of survey data as well as interviews with members of the European Parliament (MEPs) and their staff.

Keywords

  • Legitimacy
  • Accountability
  • Central bank independence
  • ECB
  • European Parliament

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Fig. 5.1
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Notes

  1. 1.

    Note the parallel debate among international relations scholars with regard to the legitimacy of international organisations and the resulting challenge of a democratic deficit of global governance (e.g., Dahl 1999; Zürn 2000, 2004, 2018; Held and Koenig-Archibugi 2005; Norris 2011).

  2. 2.

    The survey achieved an overall response rate of 20.2% among all 99 members of the ECON committee (when substitutes are included) and, importantly, 32% among all full members of the committee. In this respect, the only relatively underrepresented groups of MEPs were those who had put forward zero or one question throughout the entire five-year parliamentary legislature. For further information, see Collignon and Diessner (2016, 1307–1309).

  3. 3.

    Central bankers in the euro area and beyond appear to subscribe to the view of a growing importance of the general public for central bank communication beyond their traditional audience of financial market participants and other expert observers (Diessner 2019). See, for example, Asmussen (2012), Haldane (2016, 2017a, b, 2018a, b), Haldane and McMahon (2018), and Bloomberg (2019).

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Correspondence to Corrado Macchiarelli .

List of Interviewees

List of Interviewees

5.1.1 Code: Institution, Position, Place, Date

  • 01—European Parliament, ECON Secretariat, Official, Brussels, November 2018

  • 02—European Parliament, Member of Parliament (Staff), Brussels, November 2018

  • 03—European Parliament, Member of Parliament (Staff), Brussels, November 2018

  • 04—European Parliament, Member of Parliament, Brussels, November 2018

  • 05—European Parliament, Member of Parliament, Brussels, November 2018

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Macchiarelli, C., Monti, M., Wiesner, C., Diessner, S. (2020). The Growing Challenge of Legitimacy Amid Central Bank Independence. In: The European Central Bank between the Financial Crisis and Populisms. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-44348-1_5

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-44348-1_5

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