Blog Post

A genuine monetary union?

The European Commission’s president, José Manuel Barroso, last week proposed a roadmap setting out how to transform Europe’s current set-up into a better-functioning monetary union. The paper has two major weaknesses, but it makes three very good and ambitious points. First, on the positive side, the communication stresses the need to move ahead with a […]

By: Date: December 6, 2012 European Macroeconomics & Governance Tags & Topics

The European Commission’s president, José Manuel Barroso, last week proposed a roadmap setting out how to transform Europe’s current set-up into a better-functioning monetary union. The paper has two major weaknesses, but it makes three very good and ambitious points.

First, on the positive side, the communication stresses the need to move ahead with a common bank-resolution authority and acknowledges that a purely national system of resolution would not be effective. This is a major and very important change in the Commission’s policy stance: until very recently, the Commission’s view was that national resolution would suffice. A banking union without a common resolution authority would not be a genuine banking union. Without a common form of resolution, there can be no form of risk-sharing. And without risk-sharing, one of the main aims of the banking union – to break the vicious circle between bank debt and sovereign debt – cannot be achieved. The single financial market would remain fragmented.

Second, the Commission’s communication elaborates on what to do with the current debt overhang in the eurozone. Its solution – a redemption fund coupled with ‘eurobills’ (short-term debt backed by all 17 members of the eurozone) – is very controversial, but the Commission deserves credit for highlighting that there is a debt problem. It is high time that Europe thought more deeply about how to organise the large process of deleveraging its debt. It is unlikely that prolonged high levels of savings would alone be enough to do the trick.

Third, the communication rightly accepts the need for a common eurozone budget. A eurozone budget would serve as a stabilising factor in the event of both ordinary shocks and asymmetric shocks. The communication also clearly states that the budget must be designed to ensure that there are no permanent transfers and that it fosters structural change. The Commission fails, though, to point out that a common budget is only needed when there are extremely deep recessions.

Two important issues are entirely missing from the communication, however.

First, the section on bank resolution appears strangely incomplete. Centralising resolution powers entails a major transfer of sovereignty, which in turn requires very deep reforms and clear thinking about democratic accountability. Contrary to the Commission’s claims, changes to the EU treaty therefore appear indispensable. It is also possible that we would end up with a new resolution authority inadequately equipped to wind up banks in a way that minimises the cost to the taxpayer. The Commission should therefore re-think its approach to bank regulation. Is the implementation of a single rulebook enough to prevent major risks to taxpayers? Finally, contributions from the financial industry would be an excellent way of reducing costs to the ordinary taxpayer. At the same time, though, general tax resources will need to be called on in extreme cases

A second criticism concerns the Commission’s analysis of the macroeconomic situation. The Commission sets out relatively detailed timetables for a banking and fiscal union, but it suggests no specific steps to restore growth in Europe quickly. There is obviously a major structural component to Europe’s weak growth. That structural element needs to be addressed urgently. However, remedial, structural action would produce growth in perhaps three years’ time, and so the outlook for the next two years would remain bleak. This holds true particularly for the countries of southern Europe.

What does the Commission consider to be the truly important macroeconomic policies that Europe should enact now in order to overcome its dramatic decline in growth? The Commission will have to take a position on Europe’s macroeconomic policy. Long-term reforms are no substitute for this, because anaemic growth in Europe will undermine them. 

A version of this column was originally published in the European Voice


Republishing and referencing

Bruegel considers itself a public good and takes no institutional standpoint. Anyone is free to republish and/or quote this post without prior consent. Please provide a full reference, clearly stating Bruegel and the relevant author as the source, and include a prominent hyperlink to the original post.

View comments
Read article More on this topic More by this author

Blog Post

Silvia Merler

Financial implications of the Italian referendum

On Sunday, Italy will held a constitutional referendum whose implications for the political stability of the country are uncertain. Right after the referendum, Italy’s oldest and most troubled bank - Monte dei Paschi di Siena - is expected to complete a very important and sizable capital raise. Here we look at the situation and implications of this critical juncture.

By: Silvia Merler Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: December 2, 2016
Read about event More on this topic

Past Event

Past Event

Labour mobility after Brexit

What will Brexit mean for the free movement of workers between the UK and the EU?

Speakers: Lindsey Barras, Zsolt Darvas, Jonathan Portes and Klaus F. Zimmermann Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Location: Bruegel, Rue de la Charité 33, 1210 Brussels Date: December 2, 2016
Read about event More on this topic

Upcoming Event

Dec
6
19:00

Game Over – The Inside Story of the Greek Crisis -Drawing the broader lessons for Europe

Solvay Brussels School and Bruegel are co-organizing an event at which George Papakonstantinou and André Sapir will discuss the Greek crisis and its social and economical impact over the last 6 years.

Speakers: André Sapir, Guntram B. Wolff and George Papakonstantinou Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Location: Avenue Franklin Roosevelt 42 Brussels, 1050, Ixelles
Read about event More on this topic

Upcoming Event

Dec
7
12:30

Transition for all: equal opportunities in an unequal world

How inclusive is growth in transition countries? Post-communist countries are becoming more prosperous but many people are being left behind, risking setbacks in political and economic development.

Speakers: Heather Grabbe, Zsolt Darvas, Katarina Mathernova, Sergei Guriev and Jonathan Charles Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Location: Bruegel, Rue de la Charité 33, 1210 Brussels
Read article Download PDF More on this topic

Policy Contribution

pc-20-16_page_01

What impact does the ECB’s quantitative easing policy have on bank profitability?

This Policy Contribution shows that the effect of the ECB’s QE programme on bank profitability has not yet had a dramatically negative effect on bank operations.

By: Maria Demertzis and Guntram B. Wolff Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: November 30, 2016
Read article

Blog Post

Giuseppe Porcaro
hsbeziyq

Tweeting the Italian referendum: the hashtag war

We are monitoring an aggregate of twitter hashtags in the run up to the Italian Constitutional referendum of 4 December 2016.

By: Giuseppe Porcaro, Henrik Müller and Gerret von Nordheim Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: November 29, 2016
Read article More on this topic More by this author

Blog Post

Silvia Merler

The Italian referendum

What’s at stake: on 4 December, Italy will hold a referendum on a proposed constitutional reform approved by Parliament in April. The reform, which was designed in tandem with a new electoral law, aims to overcome Italy’s “perfect bicameralism” by changing the structure and role of the Italian Senate. It also changes the distribution of competences between the state and regions. After the shocks of Brexit and the US election, polls are now drifting towards a defeat of the government’s position in Italy.

By: Silvia Merler Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: November 28, 2016
Read article More on this topic More by this author

Blog Post

Zsolt Darvas

Income inequality has been falling in the EU

The properly measured EU-wide Gini coefficient of disposable income inequality shows that inequality in the EU as whole declined in 1994-2008, after which it remained broadly stable. However, within the EU, there are large differences in income inequality which require policy action.

By: Zsolt Darvas Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: November 23, 2016
Read article More on this topic

Blog Post

Pia Hüttl
Silvia Merler

An update: Sovereign bond holdings in the euro area – the impact of QE

Since the ECB’s announcement of its QE programme in January 2015, national central banks have been buying government and national agency bonds. In this post we look at the effect of QE on sectoral holdings of government bonds, based on our recently updated dataset.

By: Pia Hüttl and Silvia Merler Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: November 22, 2016
Read about event More on this topic

Past Event

Past Event

Vision Europe Summit 2016

The 2016 Vision Europe Summit is titled "Redesigning European Migration and Refugee Policy" and will be held in Lisbon on 21-22 November 2016.

Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Location: Lisbon Date: November 21, 2016
Read article More on this topic More by this author

Blog Post

sd-12177-_0028bea2-web

Credit recovery in Spain: NPL resolution was essential, but success depended on broader sector reform

Growth in Spain again exceeded expectations this year, and bank deleveraging appears to have reached an end. Addressing non-performing loans was a precondition for recovery, and it required comprehensive financial sector reform.

By: Alexander Lehmann Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: November 21, 2016
Read about event More on this topic

Upcoming Event

Jan
9
09:30

Can migration work for all in Europe?

On 9 January Bruegel together with the IMF is organizing a conference on migration and whether it can work for all in Europe.

Speakers: Jorg Decressin, Gianpiero Dalla Zuanna, David Lipton, Alessandra Venturini and Guntram B. Wolff Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Location: Bruegel, Rue de la Charité 33, 1210 Brussels
Load more posts