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Matthias Petel
S.J.D. Candidate
mpetel at


Climate Crisis and the European Central Bank: Legal Leeway, Legitimacy, and Institutional Reform

In the post-Covid19 economic recovery, a double constraint arises: one the one hand, the financial legacy of the pandemic leaves us with considerable levels of public debt and on the other, there is a need to invest massively in the greening of our economies. Facing this unique context, I seek to explore role of the European Central Bank (ECB). Originally, the institutional design of the ECB is intended to ensure its independence vis-à-vis governments and enshrines price stability as its primary mandate. However, following the eurozone financial crisis and the recent public health emergency, the ECB has become a genuine market maker with a key political role. Using the grey zones of its legal mandate, the ECB might continue to unilaterally expand its own mandate to cover climate issues. This expansion process may, however, lead to a judicial backlash due to the lack of democratic legitimacy and accountability of the ECB. Therefore, some authors have called for a shift from the technocratic model of central banking to a political paradigm in which money is a governance tool that may serve social objectives, including addressing the climate crisis. My dissertation aims at addressing the institutional design challenges to realize this shift.

Fields of Research and Supervisors

  • Money and the Governance of Capitalism with Professor Christine Desan, Harvard Law School, Principal Faculty Supervisor
  • Law and Economic Thought with Professor Duncan Kennedy, Harvard Law School
  • Critical Theory of Finance and Central Banking with Professor Daniela Gabor, UWE Bristol

Additional Research Interests

  • Human Rights and Climate Litigation
  • Legal and Political Theory
  • History of Economic Thought
  • Legal Foundations of Capitalism


  • Harvard Law School, S.J.D. Candidate 2021-Present
  • Harvard Law School, LL.M. 2020-2021 (requirements fulfilled, degree waived)
  • University of Louvain, Master of Law, 2015-2017
  • University of Saint-Louis Brussels, Bachelier en droit, 2012-2015

Representative Publications

Additional Information

  • Languages: English, French

Last Updated: July 14, 2021