The Politicisation of the European Central Bank: What Is It, and How To Study It? – JCMS: Journal of Common Market Studies – article

The Politicisation of the European Central Bank: What Is It, and How To Study It?

Pier Domenico Tortola | JCMS: Journal of Common Market Studies

2019-10-22

The “politicisation” of the European Central Bank is a recurrent theme in debates on the European Union after the crisis, yet one that still suffers from a considerable degree of vagueness. This is unfortunate as it hinders the development of a good discussion on the place and legitimacy of the ECB within Europe’s institutional order. To tackle this problem, the article presents a systematic analysis of the concept of ECB politicisation and an agenda for future research on this phenomenon. After reviewing existing uses of the term in the form of three dichotomies—politicisation vs independence, impartiality, and convention—the article proposes an alternative, preference‐based definition of politicisation as a deviation from technocratic policy‐making in the ECB. Building on this definition, the article then indicates three avenues for the empirical study of politicisation centred, respectively, on elite interviews and surveys, the analysis of central bankers’ networks, and the study of ECB language.

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