Open Access Journal

ISSN: 2183-2463

Article | Open Access

Do Independent Fiscal Institutions Enhance Parliamentary Accountability in the Eurozone?

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Abstract:  Independent fiscal institutions (IFIs) have been established or reformed in all eurozone countries following the reform of economic governance. As they are expected to counter the deficit bias of the governments and the information asymmetry of the legislatures and the public over the management of the budget, IFIs may support or even strengthen parliamentary accountability. This hypothesis is tested with regard to three IFIs, the Irish Fiscal Advisory Council, the Italian Parliamentary Budget Office, and the Spanish Independent Authority for Fiscal Responsibility. Although the economic context in which the IFIs were created was similar in the three eurozone countries, as was their mandate, these institutions have a rather different institutional positioning, being within the Parliament, in Italy; within the Executive, in Spain; and a stand-alone body in Ireland. This is likely to influence the IFIs’ contribution to parliamentary accountability, we hypothesize that the closer the position of an IFI and its contacts to the parliament, the stronger is the scrutiny of the executive on budgetary policies. The analysis of parliamentary questions, hearings, and of the activation of the ‘comply or explain’ procedures shows that, overall, the IFIs’ potential role to enhance parliamentary accountability has remained underexploited by the three legislatures, with no significant differences as for the institutional positioning of the IFI.

Keywords:  European economic governance; independent fiscal institutions; Ireland; Italy; parliamentary accountability; Spain


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© Cristina Fasone. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (, which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.