Recently, I was awarded a research fellowship by the European Commission, Directorate General of Economic and Financial Affairs (DG ECFIN). It involves my producing a paper entitled “The Political Economy of the European Monetary Union: Rebuilding Trust and Support for Economic Integration.” The fellowship program itself encompasses approximately ten fellows, all economists except for me (a political scientist). In addition to writing a very long research paper for publication in DG ECFIN’s paper series, I am to participate in three workshops over the course of a year (june 2014-June 2015), plus be available for 30 hours of consultations. The fellowship program was established in view of the seating of the newly European Parliament and the newly appointed Commission President and Commissioner head of DG ECFIN. We are to provide advice to the new Commissioner with regard to current and future policy. In my own case, I will be considering not just how to rebuild trust and support for economic integration but the problems with the current policies that make rebuilding trust very difficult.
In my research, I will be examining not just problems with the economic policy performance (often termed output legitimacy in EU studies ) and the increasingly volatile politics resulting from citizens’ view of the EU as unresponsive to their concerns (input legitimacy) but also the quality of the governance processes (which I term ‘throughput’ legitimacy). I will be interviewing of EU officials to get a fuller sense of the political dynamics of crisis resolution, as EU institutional actors have sought to get beyond the rigidities of the initial crisis response to economic governance that established a set of numbers-targeting rules focused on austerity and structural reform that have not worked. I will be considering how EU officials in different EU institutions may go about informally reinterpreting such rules as well as how they legitimate any such reinterpretations.