In the wake of the European financial and sovereign debt crisis there is a revived interest in the constitutional position of the European Central Bank (ECB) in the European Union legal order, notably its independence and democratic legitimacy. A new generation of researchers, witnessing and in part affected by the course of events during the crisis, is currently discovering this field of research. These contemporary contributions are more than reiterations of debates at the time of the establishment of the European System of Central Banks. Indeed, the (legal) landscape pertaining to the position of the ECB has transformed significantly during the crisis, not only raising concerns about the legitimacy of the position and actions of the ECB, but, somewhat paradoxically, also about the compatibility of its functions and actions with the basic EU Treaty preference for an independent, inflation-averse and thus, conservative central bank. This contribution provides a broader picture of the independence-versus-accountability conundrum in the post-crisis governance framework by discussing main determinants of the independence and democratic legitimacy of the ECB today, as well as identifying risks emanating from the ECB’s position in the EU legal order. Based on this assessment areas of improvement are identified.

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Keywords EU, ECB, banking union, central bank independence, central bank accountability, democratic legitimacy, Eurozone crisis, single monetary policy, prudential supervision, Pringle, Gauweiler, Weiss and others
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Journal Maastricht Journal of European and Comparative Law
Amtenbrink, F. (2019). The European Central Bank’s intricate independence versus accountability conundrum in the post-crisis governance framework. Maastricht Journal of European and Comparative Law, 26(1), 165–179. doi:10.1177/1023263X18822789