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21 October 2015

Completing Europe's Economic and Monetary Union: Commission takes concrete steps to strengthen EMU

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The package of measures adopted include the introduction of an advisory European Fiscal Board; a more unified representation of the euro area in the IMF, and specifies the steps towards completing the Banking Union, notably via a European Deposit Insurance Guarantee Scheme.

Following the presentation of the "Five Presidents' Report" by the Presidents of the Commission, the Euro Summit, the Eurogroup, the European Central Bank and the European Parliament, the Commission launched Stage 1 ("Deepening by doing") of the process of completing EMU on 1 July 2015. It follows up today with concrete measures to begin the implementation of the ambitious plan to deepen EMU.

The package of measures adopted by the College of Commissioners entails a revised approach to the European Semester, including through enhanced democratic dialogue and further improved economic governance, such as the introduction of national Competitiveness Boards and an advisory European Fiscal Board; a more unified representation of the euro area in international financial institutions, especially the IMF. It also specifies the steps towards completing the Banking Union, notably via a European Deposit Insurance Guarantee Scheme and measures to further reduce risk in the banking system. [...]

The package agreed by the College of Commissioners contributes to a stronger EMU. Specifically, it includes:

1) The External Representation of the Euro Area

The external representation of the euro area has not kept up with the currency area's increasing economic and financial weight. For instance, while the US dollar has a single strong representative in international economic and financial fora, the Member States of the euro area do not speak with one voice. The Commission therefore outlines a roadmap towards allowing euro area Member States to speak with one voice for their common interest. In particular, the Commission proposes to move to a unified representation for the euro area in the International Monetary Fund with the President of the Eurogroup as the representative for the euro area. The Commission proposes achieving this goal in several stages (outlined here).

2) Steps towards a Financial Union

Besides progress in economic governance, completing the Banking Union is an indispensable step towards a full and deep EMU. In spite of the progress made, banks and sovereigns in the euro area are still too interlinked. Completing Banking Union requires implementing the already agreed legislation and further measures to reinforce financial stability.  

A common system for deposit insurance is still the missing piece of the Banking Union. As President Jean-Claude Juncker said in his State of the Union speech, the Commission will present before the end of the year a legislative proposal on the first steps towards a European Deposit Insurance Scheme (EDIS), in order to create a more European system that is disconnected from government purses. This will ensure that citizens can be certain of the safety of their deposits independent of their geographical location. The Commission will propose a system based on reinsurance, which will keep in place the Member States' national schemes. Today’s package will be complemented by a legislative proposal later in the year.

The Commission also remains committed to further reducing risks and ensuring a level playing field in the banking sector and limiting the bank-sovereign feedback loop. Finally, alongside the completion of the Banking Union, the Capital Markets Union is a key priority.

3) A Revamped European Semester

The Juncker Commission has already substantially streamlined the European Semester in its first year in office, enabling more genuine dialogue with the Member States by publishing Country Reports already in February, three months before the Country-Specific Recommendations were finalised. In future, discussions and recommendations for the euro area as a whole will be held first, before country-specific discussions, so that common challenges are addressed coherently by all.

Employment and social aspects will feature strongly in the Semester and in the process to deepen EMU. Social partners should play a central part here. The Commission will also ensure that social fairness gets greater attention in new macroeconomic adjustment programmes, as it did for Greece, where the Commission also prepared its first social impact assessment.

4) Improving the tools of economic governance

The economic governance framework has deepened and widened in scope over the past years, but has also gained in complexity. President Juncker committed in his Political Guidelines to a "stability-oriented review" of the "six-pack" and "two-pack" legislation. This legislation is still recent and the Commission would like to see more evidence and experience with the reformed governance structure before deciding on the need for further legislative changes. Building on what has been achieved so far, the Commission will propose practical improvements to consolidate practices and improve the transparency, predictability and thus effectiveness of existing rules. In order to complement and reinforce the economic toolbox, the Commission is also proposing, in line with the "Five Presidents' Report", to establish national Competitiveness Boards as well as an advisory European Fiscal Board.

National Competitiveness Boards

The Commission recommends to the Council to recommend to Member States to establish national Competitiveness Boards in charge of tracking performance and policies in the field of competitiveness. The Boards' set-up should respect a set of minimum criteria, which account for the diversity among Member States, and fully respect the role of the social partners.

European Fiscal Board

The Commission is setting up an independent advisory European Fiscal Board to i) evaluate the implementation of the EU fiscal framework, ii) advise on the fiscal stance appropriate for the euro area as a whole, iii) cooperate with the national fiscal councils of the Member States and iv) provide ad-hoc advice on the request of the President.

The Board will be a functionally independent body composed of five experts, hosted by the Commission.

Full press release

Press remarks by Vice-President Dombrovskis on steps to strengthen Europe's Economic and Monetary Union

Completing Economic and Monetary Union: Questions and Answers

© European Commission

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