International Handbook on Informal Governance
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International Handbook on Informal Governance

Edited by Thomas Christiansen and Christine Neuhold

Acknowledging that governance relies not only on formal rules and institutions but to a significant degree also on informal practices and arrangements, this unique Handbook examines and analyses a wide variety of theoretical, conceptual and normative perspectives on informal governance.
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Chapter 25: European Economic and Monetary Policy-making through Informal Governance

Uwe Puetter


Uwe Puetter INTRODUCTION This chapter introduces the field of European Union (EU) economic and monetary policy-making representing a particular sphere of informal governance. This policy area has a long history of governing through informal decision-making mechanisms which substitute and/or complement formal decision-making structures. Informal governance mechanisms have initially included a dense web of contacts between senior finance ministry and central bank officials as well as Commission officials. With the launch of European Economic and Monetary Union (EMU), the Eurogroup – a specific forum for informal policy dialogue among finance ministers outside the Council of the EU – was created. Moreover, the informal discussion formats of the EU’s official sectoral Council formation for economic and financial affairs – ECOFIN – are also an integral part of the informal governance structure of economic and monetary policy-making at the EU level.1 It is argued that three structural features of the overall institutional framework applied in this policy area are particularly conducive to the development of informal governance mechanisms: central bank independence, the prerogative of member states to have final decisionmaking powers in the field of economic policy and the multi-speed nature of the integration process. Whereas these three factors are crucial in understanding the reluctant attitude of EU member states towards the creation of more formalized decision-making structures, there is also widely shared recognition that policy interdependencies have increased due to the implementation of a single European currency. This somewhat paradoxical logic has caused all relevant actors to engage in alternative – informal – forms of policy coordination. In...

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