"An Opportunity to Enhance the Cohesion of the Eurozone?": The Greek Sovereign Debt Crisis as a Negative Lesson

Dimitrios Argyroulis

The Greek sovereign debt crisis of 2010 triggered a series of initiatives, which resulted in the overhaul of European fiscal governance. European discourse at the time was filled with references to the necessity of understanding the lessons of that particular crisis. While Greece was not the only member state with an excessive deficit, the scale of its fiscal mismanagement made it an exceptional case. In contrast, the banking crisis had been a much more common problem but relative initiatives appeared only in 2012. This paper argues that the Greek sovereign debt crisis of 2010 was employed as a negative lesson for the promotion of policy change in the field of European fiscal governance. Drawing on the theoretical framework of sociological institutionalism and incorporating useful insights from the studies on lesson-drawing and policy transfer, the paper analyses the Greek sovereign debt crisis of 2010 as a case of negative emulation by Eurozone member states, which delegitimized the pre-existing version of the Stability and Growth Pact (SGP) and facilitated the adoption of the Six Pack. It discusses EU policymakers' learning about the failures of Greek fiscal governance, the modification of their policy ideas and the incoherence of their adapted conceptual model with the old version of the SGP. The first part of the paper unpacks the theoretical framework and includes a quick review of the Greek crisis. Subsequently, the analysis turns to the learning processes applied to the Greek case and their effects on the institutional foundations of the European fiscal regime.

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