Before this century's first global financial crisis struck Europe in 2007-2012, only people in the Brussels bubble had heard of the Eurogroup. By then, finance ministers from countries using the euro had been meeting in this format every month for ten years but – as Joscha Abels writes in The Politics of the Eurogroup: Governing Crisis and Conflict in the European Union (Routledge, 2023) - “the group had been almost invisible to the public".
Over the next decade – and especially during the most acute phase of the Greek debt crisis in 2015 – that all changed. Devised in the 1990s as an informal body without decision-making powers, from 2010 onwards the Eurogroup assumed political authority for negotiating and approving bailout loans and making sure the conditions for those loans were met.
Many memoirs have been written about these fraught years – including duelling books by former Eurogroup president Jeroen Dijsselbloem and short-lived Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis – but Abels has written the first book-length theoretical and institutional assessment of the Eurogroup itself.
Joscha Abels is a research associate and lecturer in political economy at the University of Tübingen. Educated at Mannheim and Oslo, he completed his PhD at Tübingen with a dissertation on the role of the Eurogroup. His most recent research work is on infrastructure policy and geoeconomics. His new paper - Does the current crisis mark the end of the EU’s austerity era? - published in Comparative European Politics (Volume 21, Issue 2, April 2023) can be found here.
*The author's own book recommendations are The Political Economy of Geoeconomics: Europe in a Changing World edited by Milan Babić, Adam Dixon, and Imogen Liu (Palgrave Macmillan, 2022) and Butcher's Crossing by John Williams (first published 1960 - Vintage Classics, 2013).
Tim Gwynn Jones is an economic and political-risk analyst at Medley Advisors, who also writes the Twenty-Four Two newsletter on Substack and hosts the In The Room podcast series on EU history from the inside.