The Institutional Design of EMU: A Democratic Deficit?
The introduction of the euro is accompanied by an independent European Central Bank (ECB) which is solely responsible for monetary policy in the euro zone. No European institution will be introduced to flank the ECB. This particular institutional design is problematic. This article argues that Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) suffers moderately from a democratic deficit. However, the case of Germany illustrates that it is not the independence of the ECB that should be cause for concern, but the absence of specific domestic features and a government. It is unclear which political authority will be held responsible if EMU leads to an uneven distribution of costs and benefits across the euro zone. Economic literature suggests that under EMU distortions could well occur and that a different design could deal better with these imperfections. The historical process leading to EMU explains the reasons for its particular design. Although imperfect, EMU is an improvement over the pre-EMU status quo in which Germany de facto dominated monetary policy. Nevertheless, the design of EMU remains suboptimal.