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Anna Sophie Elektra Zech

GEM-DIAMOND doctoral fellow

ESR 2 – The capitalism-democracy nexus and struggles over European governance

Fascinated by the political economy of monetary policy, I am curious to research the ECB's engagement with public discourse across Eurozone member states. #textasdata

Host Institutions

Watching the Watchers

On the Mediation of European Central Bank Communication with Member State Publics


  • Antoine Vauchez
  • Amandine Crespy

Research abstract

The ECB has increasingly stretched its mandate in the face of conflicting pressures arising from its responsibility to maintain both price and financial stability. Alongside the lack of a full-blown fiscal counterpart at EU level that can provide macroeconomic stabilisation, this context has encouraged monetary policy innovation. The latter, particularly when impacting sovereign debt markets, brings about recurrent political struggles and increasingly complicates the ECB’s independence.

Among the ECB’s several publics (EU institutions, governments, financial markets), its interaction with the ‘general’ public across member states remains poorly understood in spite of significant dissensus. Extant political science research has largely focused on analysing ECB-owned communications output, neglecting that most learn about the ECB via intermediaries, notably expert opinions in the press. It remains unclear how these mediators engage with the ECB’s discourse, and vice versa, in light of diverse national veto points. Researching these actors can thus facilitate an improved understanding of the ECB’s interaction with its publics, moving beyond a top-down approach that is focused on ECB output, and elucidate how the need for a unified monetary policy discourse on the one and diverse national audiences, on the other hand, is negotiated in practice.

Empirically, the project proposes to study the so-called ECB Watchers and their annual conference at the IMFS specifically as one of the mediators of this discourse. Discourse has long played a fundamental role in monetary policy, notably in the case of the ECB given its vague mandate, and is a reliable data source as “talk is not cheap”. To reflect the dynamic interaction of public narratives and institutional evolution, the methodological framework of discursive institutionalism is adopted (Schmidt, 2008). Following an initial bio/prosopographic survey of its participants for characterisation purposes, the project will thus, in a second step, employ quantitative text analysis of media coverage that stakeholders are involved in, ECB communication in the form of press releases etc. and interviews with watchers as well as ECB personnel. In an effort to operationalise public responses to ECB communication and its mediation, additional data sources such as public and media enquiries received by the ECB are being explored.

The findings of this project can shed new light on the state of eurozone governance and contribute to a broader literature on “emergency politics” that often feature prominent intervention by technocratic and/or executive actors (White, 2015).

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Anna is a Marie Skłodowska Curie Doctoral Fellow at Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne and the Université Libre de Bruxelles within the Horizon Europe GEM-Diamond project. Under the joint supervision of Antoine Vauchez (Paris 1) and Amandine Crespy (ULB), her doctoral project examines to what extent the European Central Bank engages strategically with its politicisation.

Anna holds an MA (Hons) in Business/Management and Italian from the University of Glasgow, a Graduate Diploma in International Relations from the University of London, an MA in European Affairs with a specialisation in Economics and Public Policy from Sciences Po Paris and an MSc in Political Economy of Europe from the London School of Economics and Political Science.