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External conditionality and the debt crisis: the ‘Troika’ and public administration reform in Greece

Featherstone, K., (2015), “External conditionality and the debt crisis: the ‘Troika’ and public administration reform in Greece”, Journal of European Public Policy, Vol. 22, Issue 3, pp.295-314.

Levering domestic reform via external conditionality has become crucial to the rescues of European Union member states in the context of the eurozone crisis. This article examines a critical case – Greece – and a problematic sector – reform of the central state administration – to assess the applicability of three hypotheses advanced by Schimmelfennig and Sedelmeier. New data on the trends in reform activity before and during Greece’s debt crisis are assessed, as well as their content and paradigmatic frames, to assess the extent of a break with the inherited domestic model. They highlight the contrast between aggregate activity and the substance of reform in sensitive areas. They attribute reform failures to the crafting of the conditionality strategy and to conflicting interests, administrative traditions and cultural norms. The case highlights key challenges for the EU in its handling of the diversity of administrative systems across the eurozone, an agenda neglected at Maastricht.

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