Department of Political Science

The role of the EU institutions in establishing the banking union: Collaborative leadership in the EMU reform process

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  • Bodil Nielsen, Council of the European Union
  • ,
  • Sandrino Smeets, Radboud University Nijmegen

This article analyses the role of the EU institutions in guiding the EMU reform process. Many have argued that the institutions have had to adapt to a ‘constraining’ environment in which EU negotiations are highly salient and touch upon ‘core state powers’. To explain how they have been adapting, we provide a detailed process tracing analysis of their role in setting up the banking union. We use insights from principal-agent (PA) theorizing, but extend this framework to account for situations in which there are multiple agents. The analysis shows that in spite of overlapping interests, functional imperatives and a crisis atmosphere, there was nothing inevitable about the banking union. It came about through new patterns of institutional collaboration at different stages and between different levels of decision making. We explore the implications of this type of collaborative leadership at the level of agents, arenas, process and substance.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of European Public Policy
Pages (from-to)1233-1256
Publication statusPublished - 2018

    Research areas

  • Banking union, economic and monetary union, EU institutions, European integration, leadership, principal-agent theory

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