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How a secretive circle of finance ministers shape European economic governance
Author: Uwe Puetter

This book a study on the work of the Eurogroup—monthly informal meetings between euro area finance ministers, the Commission and the European Central Bank. It demonstrates how this small, secretive circle of senior decision-makers shapes European economic governance through a routinised informal policy dialogue. Although the role of the Eurogroup has been contested since before the group's creation, its actual operation has never been subject to systematic evaluation. This book opens the doors of the meeting room and shows how an understanding of the interplay of formal provisions and informal processes is pivotal to the analysis of euro area governance. The book advances the conceptual understanding of informal negotiations among senior European and national decision-makers, and provides an in-depth analysis of historical episodes of policy coordination. As other areas of European decision-making rely increasingly on informal, voluntary policy coordination amongst member states, the Eurogroup model can be seen as a template for other policy areas.

Uwe Puetter

2833Chap6 14/2/06 9:49 AM Page 140 6 Assessing the Eurogroup’s informal working method The Eurogroup constitutes a unique framework for discussions among euro area finance ministers, the Commission and the ECB. As the preceding empirical analysis has shown, the Eurogroup is firmly anchored within EMU’s economic governance framework. The following two chapters review the findings of the case studies in the light of the theoretical argument which was set out in Chapter 1. This chapter assesses the potential of the Eurogroup’s informal working method to foster

in The Eurogroup
Uwe Puetter

2833Chap3 14/2/06 9:46 AM Page 63 3 The informal working method Against the background of the account on the institutional and historicalpolitical sources of informal governance this chapter introduces the features of the Eurogroup’s peculiar working method. It is within this institutional setting that the euro area’s top decision-makers address the challenges to economic governance in Stage 3. The actual work of the group is not regulated through legal provisions. Informal governance within the Eurogroup is built on a set of routinised practices and shared

in The Eurogroup
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Uwe Puetter

2833Chap4 14/2/06 9:47 AM Page 86 4 The agenda The necessity and the advantages [of informal discussions within the Eurogroup] are obvious. If one shares a single currency there are problems and issues which are of interest for this group of finance ministers only. The finances ministers who do not belong to this group might also have an interest but they are not directly concerned. And so we have a community bound together by shared interests – or a community bound together by fate – depending on the degree of dramatisation you wish to apply. (Anonymous

in The Eurogroup
Abstract only
Uwe Puetter

2833Intro 14/2/06 9:44 AM Page 1 Introduction The informal Eurogroup, comprising the finance ministers of the euro area, plays a central role in the economic governance set-up of Economic and Monetary Union (EMU). This might seem surprising given that the group is deprived of any formal decision-making competences and keeps a low official profile. The group is the smallest coordination forum known in Brussels. Only the ministers themselves attend the meetings and they find no administrative infrastructure at their disposal. In fact, the Eurogroup pre

in The Eurogroup
Abstract only
Uwe Puetter

2833Chap7 14/2/06 9:49 AM Page 160 7 Conclusion Oh yes, in the absence of the Eurogroup the evolution of EMU would probably have been a lot more disruptive. It is really a question of governance. We can say that the Eurogroup is the core of EU economic governance. (Anonymous interview, participant C) The Eurogroup generates informal resources which guide policy-makers in the absence of formal provisions or form the basis of formal resources such as Treaty provisions, Council decisions at the EU level or cabinet decisions at the national level. The Eurogroup

in The Eurogroup
Uwe Puetter

2833Chap5 14/2/06 9:47 AM Page 112 5 Informal governance and the operation of the SGP This chapter analyses one specific policy discourse over time. It focuses on the Eurogroup’s role in the operation of the SGP and demonstrates how the Eurogroup embraced the core themes of the SGP step by step and made them a key priority of its work. Reference to three instances of noncompliance with the SGP criteria during the years 2000 to 2002 illustrates how formal and informal governance structures interact in times of crisis. The SGP constitutes the procedural

in The Eurogroup
Uwe Puetter

2833Chap2 14/2/06 9:45 AM Page 36 2 Why does EMU require informal governance? So, one might ask what is then the function of the Eurogroup? Obviously the function of the Eurogroup is, while this system [of economic governance in EMU] on paper looks clear enough and does not necessitate anything like the Eurogroup, nevertheless it is quite clear that there is scope for some kind of, I do not know if coordination is a good word, I think dialogue is a better word, in order to avoid misunderstandings, in order to have people more or less to see the things in the

in The Eurogroup
Uwe Puetter

2833Chap1 14/2/06 9:45 AM Page 9 1 Theorising informality There is no ready-to-use approach for studying informal governance within the Eurogroup. Neither has the context of informal deliberations among ministers been subject to detailed empirical investigation, nor is there a conclusive theoretical concept explaining the particularities and dynamics of such an institutional context. This chapter, therefore, looks at the theoretical implications of a study of informal governance within the Eurogroup in more detail. It critically reviews existing approaches

in The Eurogroup
Costas Simitis

28 Provisional solutions, October–June 2013 The initial efforts of the new coalition government to re-establish positive relations with the governments of the Eurozone were bearing fruit. Samaras’s focus on the implementation of outstanding reforms was helping improve the climate for a return to the negotiating table. At a meeting of the Eurogroup on 14 September, held in Nicosia, the ministers around the table registered the concerns of the Greek minister, but also reiterated their calls for sustained adherence to the adjustment programme and indicated that

in The European debt crisis