The role of constitutional law for the ECB: past, present and future

The rules governing the euro and its central bank, the ECB, have been subject to high expectations. Absent a political union, the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) would be ‘rules-based’. This paper argues that the rules of EMU reflected a mix of ambitions, both politically and economically. Especially the economic debates over EMU have therefore not properly accounted for the fact that the rules also sought to structure the process of European integration, by keeping the Member States collectively in charge. The rules of the euro therefore can be seen to have a constitutional purpose and nature. This paper argues that the constitutional aspect of the rules of EMU is crucial to explain the evolution of the euro-crisis. Over the last year, solutions to the economic problems in the Eurozone created by the pandemic have mostly worked around EMU. This paper then concludes by arguing that these work-arounds will ultimately also become entangled in the constitutional problems of the euro.