The ESM’s Pandemic Crisis Support: a ‘reform in disguise’ or a ‘non-reform’?

The paper will focus on the introduction of the Pandemic Crisis Support (PCS), as a special credit line of the ESM, agreed upon in the context of the responses to the Covid-19 emergency. While the main idea underlying such new instrument is clear (providing financial assistance to Euro area Member States subject to a reduced degree of conditionality), its legal implications are much more ambiguous. Suffice it to mention, the lack of changes in the text of both the ESM Treaty and Regulation (EU)472/2013, as well as the choice of ‘legal sources’ of uncertain legal value, such as the letter of Commissioners Dombrovskis and Gentiloni of 7 May 2020 or the various documents adopted by the Governing Board of the ESM. In light of the above, the paper will try to investigate if the PCS entails a ‘reform in disguise’ of the ESM, or whether it is actually a ‘non-reform’, since, at a closer look, it does not really alter the strict conditionality requirement that marks the very essence of the ESM.