Blog Post

The eurozone will muddle through (again)

At the last European Council summit of 2012, politicians decided to go ahead with the banking union while ending their reflections on fiscal union they had initiated in June, a time of acute market stress. The message: banking union is needed; the rest is not. This behaviour confirms that the eurozone has little appetite to think about its own future.

By: Date: February 11, 2013 European Macroeconomics & Governance Tags & Topics

At the last European Council summit of 2012, politicians decided to go ahead with the banking union while ending their reflections on fiscal union they had initiated in June, a time of acute market stress. The message: banking union is needed; the rest is not.

This behaviour confirms that the eurozone has little appetite to think about its own future. Like negligent or impecunious homeowners who only contemplate repairs when the roof threatens to collapse, their overriding motivation is to avoid imminent disaster. As market expectations of break-up have abated, even a discussion on whether integration initiatives would make the currency area more resilient or more efficient seems superfluous.

There are several reasons for this stance.

First, few leaders still have ambitions for Europe. Most are disillusioned. Fighting the crisis in the eurozone has already proved divisive. The less further initiatives they take, the less they risk political problems at home.

Second, there is no agreement about what is desirable. Most observers in southern Europe and France regard systemic reforms to governance as necessary but most in Northern Europe consider the crisis has resulted from national economic policy failures.

Third, mutual trust among eurozone countries has been dented. Cultural prejudices about the lazy south and the arrogant north are back in force.

Fourth, governments in Europe have limited respect for the European institutions (with the possible exception of the European Central Bank) and they are very reluctant to transfer competences and powers to Brussels.

This does not mean that the euro will not survive. The creation of a financial firewall, the new fiscal treaty and banking union are three significant developments. At any rate, projects for a fiscal capacity, common bonds or the creation of a European treasury are still sketchy and far from being implementable. But by consciously avoiding to discuss which reforms would make participation in the euro less risky and more beneficial for all, the European leaders have missed an opportunity to signal that the harsh economic adjustment which will continue to dominate the policy agenda in 2013 is not an end in itself.

This opinion piece was published by the Financial Times in the comment section FT A-list.


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 by this author

Blog Post

Zsolt Darvas

Single market access from outside the EU: three key prerequisites

In relative terms, Norway’s current net financial contribution to the EU is similar to the UK’s. Switzerland and Liechtenstein pay surprisingly little, while Iceland is a net beneficiary. Relative to their population, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein received about twice as large an inflow of EU immigrants as the UK. These countries also have to adopt the vast majority of EU regulation to gain access to the single market.

By: Zsolt Darvas Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: July 19, 2016
Read article More on this topic More by this author

Opinion

Guntram B. Wolff

The difficulties of defining EU-UK economic relations

Negotiations on the UK's exit from the EU have not yet begun, but the UK leadership needs to find a balance between single market access and free movement. There are also tensions between the demands of voters and what EU partners can plausibly agree. Guntram Wolff doubts the likelihood of a Norway- or Switzerland-style deals, and urges caution on all sides.

By: Guntram B. Wolff Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: July 19, 2016
Read article More on this topic More by this author

Blog Post

Marek Dabrowski

Iran: from isolation to economic cooperation

With some sanctions temporarily lifted, now is the chance for Iran to reintegrate into the global economy and political system. But comprehensive economic and political reforms are needed.

By: Marek Dabrowski Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: July 15, 2016
Read article More on this topic More by this author

Blog Post

Zsolt Darvas

Brexit vote boosts case for inclusive growth

In the United Kingdom’s Brexit referendum, income inequality and poverty boosted ‘leave’ votes, in addition to geographical differences and larger shares of uneducated and older people in UK regions, according to my regression analysis. The actual presence of immigrants did not have a significant effect on the results. Disadvantaged people voted in smaller proportions. Turnout was also low among the young and residents of Scotland, Northern Ireland and London, who were more likely to vote ‘remain’.

By: Zsolt Darvas Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: July 13, 2016
Read about event More on this topic

Past Event

Past Event

Does the euro area need a sovereign insolvency mechanism?

The sovereign debt crisis shook the Euro to its foundations. It soon became clear that there was no mechanism to allow a tidy insolvency of a state wishing to remain inside the euro area. To face future crises, does the EU need a sovereign insolvency mechanism?

Speakers: Jochen Andritzky, Lars Feld, Zsolt Darvas and Guntram B. Wolff Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Location: Bruegel, Rue de la Charité 33, 1210 Brussels Date: July 12, 2016
Read article More on this topic More by this author

Blog Post

Jérémie Cohen-Setton

The great risk shift and populism

What’s at stake: For many commentators, Brexit was the signal of a broad populist backlash and illustrated the need to articulate policies that address the grievances of those citizens who have been left behind by recent economic changes.

By: Jérémie Cohen-Setton Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: July 11, 2016
Read article Download PDF More on this topic More by this author

Policy Contribution

Cover

An Italian job: the need for collective wage bargaining reform

Italy’s current system of centralised wage bargaining needs to be reformed. The system was designed without regard for the underlying industrial structure and geographical heterogeneity of the Italian economy. This has fostered perverse incentives and imbalances within Italy.

By: Alessio Terzi Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: July 6, 2016
Read article More on this topic More by this author

Opinion

Guntram B. Wolff

市场与公投承诺不可兼得

未来几个月市场的动荡还将持续,直到英国与欧盟关系的条款最终敲定。英国与欧盟保持密切关联的政治可能性越高,市场反应将会越积极。相反,如果英国采取孤立主义,以及欧洲大陆的惩罚性情绪越高,那么英国和欧盟的股市下跌将会越严重。

By: Guntram B. Wolff Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: July 6, 2016
Read article More on this topic More by this author

Opinion

Schoenmaker pic

登录 注册 丢了“欧盟护照”伦敦金融城伤不起

 作为全球金融中心,伦敦一部分的吸引力来自于其窗口作用——在伦敦扎根可以直接打入泛欧洲经济区(EEA)的内部市场。这么说来,金融企业有一个英国经营牌照就如同有一本“欧盟护照”,境外机构可以在整个欧洲经济区提供金融服务,畅通无阻。

By: Dirk Schoenmaker Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: July 5, 2016
Read article More on this topic More by this author

Blog Post

Dalia Marin

Inequality in Germany – how it differs from the US

The pay gap between workers and CEOs in Germany is driven by a lack of managers. Income inequality could fall if there were more managers available for companies to hire. Firms should start hiring more CEOs who are women or from abroad.

By: Dalia Marin Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: July 5, 2016
Read article More on this topic

Blog Post

Alvaro Leandro
jaume

Spanish unemployment and the effects of the 2012 labour market reform

What’s at stake: Spain is currently the EU country with the second highest level of unemployment, after Greece. The high and persistent level of unemployment and the appropriate labour market reforms are a major topic of discussion in Spain. We review arguments made in the blogosphere and by international organisations on the reasons for Spain’s stubbornly high unemployment, and various assessments of the labour market reforms of 2012.

By: Alvaro Leandro and Jaume Martí Romero Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: July 4, 2016
Read article More on this topic More by this author

Blog Post

Zsolt Darvas

No Lehman moment on currency markets after Brexit vote

While the pound sterling has lost a lot of its value right after the Brexit vote, from a historical perspective neither the fall of the exchange rate, nor its current level, is unprecedented. The situation is not as severe as it was in the aftermath the collapse of Lehman Brothers.

By: Zsolt Darvas Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: June 30, 2016
Load more posts