Economic Policy-Making Tensions between the European Commission and the European Council
In recent years, the European Council has been adopting economic decisions through the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU). Its instrument concerning the “conclusions on the general orientations of the economic policies of the Member States and of the Union “(Article 121.2 TFEU) has reduced the European Council, together with the European Commission, to an executor of its measures (Bertoncini and Vitorino, 2014).
A Blog Article by Dimitrios Koumparoulis.
With regard to the European Commission, although Article 15 of the TFEU expressly excludes the legislative function of the European Council, in its effort to differentiate its role in relation to it, in practice the European Council and its President have acted decisively in steering the work agenda of these institutions (“agenda setting”), of which the field of economic governance is a paradigmatic example, while demonstrating a competitive cooperation relationship between both institutions (Bertoncini and Vitorino, 2014).
The relationship with the European Parliament has been especially marked by tension in the face of what has been considered an overreach in its functions by the European Council. The adoption of decisions regarding economic governance outside the established legal and institutional frameworks has led to a certain degree of marginalization of the European Parliament, which has been criticizing the excessive interventionism of the European Council in some of its documents. Additionally, the European Parliament has been remonstrating that this institution has multiplied exceptional meetings dealing with matters pertaining to the Council of Ministers, meddling in the legislative function and resorting to intergovernmental treaties to influence European legislation outside the community framework (Bertoncini and Vitorino, 2014).
Among the great milestones of the decisions promoted by the European Council is the Resolution of the European Council on the Stability and Growth Pact of 1997. This Resolution provides the European Union Member States, the Council and the Commission with political guidance to implement the Stability and Growth Pact, and encourages EU Member States to pursue sound budgetary policies after entering the third stage of Economic and Monetary Union (EMU). At the European Council on March 22 and 23, 2005, support was given to the political agreement of the finance ministers for better management of the Stability and Growth Pact (Bertoncini and Vitorino, 2014).
Since the economic crisis of 2008 and in its aftermath, European Central Bank (ECB) has become one of the most relevant institutions to the defense and development of the European project (Bertoncini and Vitorino, 2014). The ECB is the protagonist of important developments in in relation to economic governance, especially with regard to the decision to move towards banking union, with new powers for bank supervision, as part of the process of strengthening the economic and monetary union (Bertoncini and Vitorino, 2014).
Though the European Council has taken a leading role in the management of the economic crisis, it is an institution which has undergone important changes in recent years in the role it has played in relation to economic governance, while becoming a fundamental forum for political discussion and decision-making at the highest level.
Written by Dimitrios Koumparoulis
Edited by Pablo Markin
Bertoncini, Y. and Vitorino, A. (2014). Reforming Europe’s Governance: For a more legitimate and effective federation of nation states. Paris: Notre Europe, Jacques Delors Institute.
Featured Image Credits: European Council, 1st Day, Brussels, June 23, 2011 | © Courtesy of European Council/Flickr.