Eurozone Crisis and Legitimacy: Governing by the rules, ruling by the numbers

26  June 2014    5:00 pm CEST

Vivien A. Schmidt, Boston University


wiiw, Rahlgasse 3, 1060 Vienna, lecture hall (entrance from the ground floor)


The Eurozone’s economic crisis has also generated a crisis of democratic legitimacy. ‘Output’ policies have suffered from poor economic performance, as austerity has failed to produce significant growth or structural reforms greater competitiveness. ‘Input’ politics have become increasingly volatile, as citizens’ disenchantment with policy outcomes and governments’ lack of responsiveness has grown in tandem with the rise of extremist parties and Euro-skeptic attitudes. And the quality of the ‘throughput’ processes has equally been in question with regard to efficacy, accountability, transparency, and access. The problems are not only caused by the predominance of supranational and intergovernmental governance—as the ECB acts, the member-state leaders in the European Council decide, the European Commission serves as a secretariat, and the European Parliament is sidelined. They also result from EU institutional actors’ over-emphasis on ‘one-size’ governing by the rules and ruling by the numbers, which has been to the detriment of output performance and input responsiveness. By ‘governing by the rules’ and ‘ruling by the numbers,’ EU institutional actors seem to have forgotten that democratic legitimacy demands not just rules to follow but politics that appeal to the citizens along with policies that work.

Vivien A. Schmidt is Jean Monnet Professor of European Integration, Professor of International Relations and Political Science at Boston University, and Founding Director of BU’s Center for the Study of Europe. Recent honors, fellowships, and awards include an honorary doctorate from the Free University of Brussels (ULB), Senior Visiting Research Scholar at the Free University of Berlin, and the Franqui Interuniversity Chair held at the Free University of Brussels and Louvain. Prof. Schmidt has also been a visiting professor or scholar at Sciences-Po Paris, LUISS in Rome, Oxford, Cambridge, the Copenhagen Business School, and the European University Institute. She has published widely on European political economy, institutions, and democracy as well as on institutional theory, with nine books and over 100 scholarly journal articles or chapters in books. Recent books include Resilient Liberalism in Europe’s Political Economy (co-edited with M. Thatcher, Cambridge 2013), Debating Political Identity and Legitimacy in the European Union (co-edited with S. Lucarelli and F. Cerutti, Routledge 2011), Democracy in Europe (Oxford 2006). Professor Schmidt is also former chair of the European Union Studies Association—USA. She received her B.A. from Bryn Mawr College, her M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Chicago. Her current research is on the impact of the Eurozone crisis on European political economy and democracy and on neo-institutional theory (in particular discursive institutionalism).