The publication explores the impact of the global financial crisis and of the European sovereign debt crisis on democratic principles in Europe. They have been democracy as much as financial crises. They not only emerged in democratic countries – first in the United States than in European countries – but caused the worst consequences on other democratic countries, where they had an impact on democratic governance. The two crises produced a number of institutional changes in Europe, which will be explored in the following paragraphs. Some patterns will appear as we go through this list of institutional novelties: first of all, the expanding role of the top political bodies (European Council, Eurozone Summit) and of the technocratic ones (IMF, European Commission, ECB, EMS). This evolution was legitimated by the circumstances, in particular by a sense of urgency, that limited the debate – and the time-consuming parliamentarism – and validated «technical» solutions. Such trends go hand in hand with technocratic solutions used as recipes for recovery, like the preference for regulatory solutions or the extensive use of the conditionality mechanism. As we will explain, the approach inspired by austerity is nothing but a natural consequence. After a comprehensive examination, a fact crops out: there has been a compression of democratic governance at national level through decisions stemming from less than democratic procedures represented to citizens as the only possible way out of the crisis. The scenario might look gloomy, but the goal of this analysis is to prove that the current crisis opened up a window of opportunity not only to address the original flaws of the EMU’s institutional frame as well as the limits of crisis management mechanisms but also to increase European citizens’ awareness and their demand for a more democratic governance.
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