Democracy, Translucidity and Accountability: The Eurozone vs. The Democratic Right to Know

Date01 March 2017
AuthorAgustín José Menéndez
Published date01 March 2017
Democracy, Translucidity and
Accountability: The Eurozone vs. The
Democratic Right to Know
One thing iscertain about Brexit: Theallegedly unpredictableoutcome of the referendum
has fed a new scholarly fad. Instantworking papers, instant special issues, even instant
books have already been written, dealing with the backstage of the Brexit campaign, the
causesof the popular revoltand the plots and counterplots in the corridors of power
and the antechambers of spin doc tors. The supply of futurologis t analyses of the
consequencesof Brexit to the (dis)United Kingdomare also in strong supply. The paradox
of Brexit as a pop-outacademi c industry is that most of the ent husiastic academic
entrepreneurs that have built the eld implicitly endorse the perspective of most radical
Brexiteers by focusing alm ost exclusively on the Bri tish side of the affair. As if Brexit
was an entirely British issue, as if the state of the European Union did not inuence the
outcome, as if the United Kingdom leaving the European Union was not bound to affect
the European Union too. Li stening to some of the debate s, one might be forgiven for
entertaining thethought that Brexit is even more paradoxical than the unwritten butvery
written British Constituti on, given that it boils down to the divorce of a po lity that
remained rather unengaged all th ese years. Thus, it is not far-fetched t o conclude that
Brexit requires scholarly analysis that tackles the structural causes and the structural
implications of a momentous decision for both the United Kingdom and the European
Union. Majones sober and balanced piece provides a much needed counterpoint to the
mass of on-the-hoof analysis. Instead of focusing on the short-term vagaries of electoral
politics, or divining the outcomes of the ongoing bargaining games, Majone sets Brexit
in its long-term context, sho wing the extent to which it is a further ( and still very
important) symptom of the st ructural crises the Europea n Union is going through.
Perhaps even more important ly, Majone renews his plea for thi nking European
integration along very different lines from the ones favoured by mainstream EU studies,
namely as a concentricset of functional unions, capableof complementing the capacities
of Member Stateswithout eroding the basis of theirdemocratic legitimacy. BothMajones
diagnosis and prognosis are bound to be highly polemical, in the best ELJ tradition.
The European Central Ban k (ECB) has gained major n ew formal competences an d
substantive powers as a result of the many transf ormations triggered by t he manifold
European crises. This more than justies reconsidering the foundations of the legitimacy
of the ECB, and more specically, how the said legitimacy depends on the institutional
setup and procedures tha t ensure the ECB acts in a transp arent fashion and remains
accountable to supranational and national representa tive institutions. This is precisely
what Curtin invites us to do in her contribution. The accrual of new powers to the ECB,
both through explicit ch anges in the law, and perhaps eve n more so, due to emerging
conventions among European and national institutions, requires that we reconsider the
legitimacy equation of the EC B, that we not only test both the a ccountability and the
transparency of the ECB, but al so, and perhaps above all, the re lationship(s) between
the two. Curtin cautiously leans towards (on-the-alert) scepticism. There is no doubt that
the ECB has become more active in presenting itself as a transparent institution, and has
European LawJournal, Vol. 23, No. 1-2, August 2017,pp. 28.
© 2017 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

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