Collective policy learning in EU financial assistance: Insights from the Euro crisis and Covid‐19

This article examines policy change in the EU’s financial assistance regime through a collective learning perspective. By defining a financial assistance regime as the set of rules governing the disbursement and withdrawal of funding to the member states in the context of crisis management, the article seeks to address the following research question: How can we explain the exact form of change in the EU’s financial assistance regime between the euro crisis and the Covid‐19 pandemic? The article finds that financial assistance in the EU moved from “intergovernmental coordination” with the European Stability Mechanism to a form of “limited supranational delegation” with the Recovery and Resilience Facility and argues that such a change is due to a collective policy‐learning process. This finding suggests that the EU tends to learn from past crisis experiences, freeing itself from established institutional constraints, only when the next crisis becomes a concrete cause for concern. However, when the next crisis strikes, the EU is indeed able to radically alter its practices based on previous policy failures.