Adjustment Programmes, the European Central Bank and Conditionality

Roderic O’Gorman
November 2018  

Five Eurozone states have undergone and subsequently exited economic adjustment programmes. The European Central Bank (ECB) has had a key role in the drafting and oversight on each programme through its membership of ‘the Troika’, alongside the European Commission and the International Monetary Fund. This paper examines the different categories of conditionality that were imposed on each program country, with a particular focus on how the Irish programme was implemented through examination of the quarterly programme reviews undertaken by the Troika, noting that certain conditionality remained unfulfilled on the State’s exit. The paper then considers the evolving role of the ECB in the drafting of the economic adjustment programmes and the implementation of conditionality, and considers the appropriateness of this. It discusses some of the litigation before European courts stemming from challenges to national laws mandated by conditionality on the grounds of breach of social rights. The paper concludes by holding that the central role given to the European Central Bank by the ESM Treaty shows there has been little fundamental change in its status. Further, it holds that the CJEU is failing to engage with the reality of the impacts of the programme measures on the citizens of Member State, by leaving the actions of EU intuitions like the ECB de facto insulated from legal challenges. [...]

Keywords: adjustment programme, conditionality, European Central Bank, Eurozone, Troika.

Roderic O’Gorman is Lecturer-in-Law at the Dublin City University, Brexit Institute, Socio-Legal Research Centre.

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