Economic and Monetary Union - Related Opinions
The EESC welcomes the proposal put forward by the Commission to introduce the world's first regional financial transaction tax (FTT). The Committee believes that its application at regional level (EU11+ zone) could constitute an exceptional opportunity, which could lead to its future application worldwide. The Committee believes that the introduction of this tax within the EU11+ will foster the establishment of a single financial market. The Committee believes that, in order to maximise the impact of the tax on economic growth, the revenue that it raises should be channelled into a programme of investment at national and EU levels capable of delivering economic recovery and jobs in the short term.
The EESC welcomes the Commission's proposals on adapting the European regulatory framework to reflect changes made to international standards on preventing and combating money laundering and the financing of terrorism. It also approves the inclusion of gambling service providers on the list of professionals subject to requirements and notes that the present proposal contains a certain number of requirements that go beyond international standards. The EESC welcomes the proposal to harmonise the sanctions applicable at European level but has reservations regarding the purely "administrative" nature of the sanctions foreseen.
The international economic and financial crisis exposed the structural limitations and contradictions in EMU, depriving the euro of its propensity to attract. The EESC believes that the single currency will be unsustainable unless we achieve convergence between the economic capacities of the euro area countries and improve overall competitiveness, objectives which require economic as well as political commitment. The Treaty on Stability, Coordination and Governance stresses stability without proposing joint financial instruments for recovery and employment. Europe needs to go back to generating wealth in order to redistribute it fairly. Briefly, these are the EESC's four recommendations for completing the euro framework, i.e.
The EESC welcomes the Commission communication, which may prove a historic turning point provided that the Council finally musters the courage and the will necessary to adopt and put into effect the provisions that will help to achieve the stated objectives swiftly. Therefore, to achieve a genuine EMU, the EESC believes it necessary in the immediate term (without amending the Treaty) to: launch a European growth initiative; introduce a convergence instrument to help overcome the economic asymmetries between countries; implement a solution to the debt issue; rapidly implement banking union; complete the single market in all sectors; reduce the fragmentation of the credit market.
The Committee gives a guarded welcome to the two communications from the Commission on the introduction of a Competitiveness and Convergence Instrument and on ex-ante coordination of plans for major economic policy reforms. It is disappointing that they provide little additional detail to the concepts already outlined in the Blueprint, which therefore renders assessment difficult. While these two proposals could be a help to Member States in difficulty, restoring growth and capacity to the most needy areas may be hampered or delayed because the focus of concern is that the measures taken must also benefit the euro area as a whole. The Committee questions the added value of a CCI and the additional bureaucratic burden that the proposed ex-ante coordination may bring. The EESC wishes to continue the debate as developments evolve.
The EESC welcomes the establishment of broad economic policy guidelines for the countries of the euro area and supports the formulation of recommendations tailored to each country as well as measures to assess their implementation. However, the Committee regards the current macroeconomic policy mix as unbalanced and calls for a new growth model which takes into account the significance of demand and distributive justice. Stricter regulation of financial markets should be accompanied by a general re-think not only of expenditure, but also of tax systems. Policies should capitalise more on the fact that the negative income and employment multipliers of revenue-related measures are generally more limited than those of spending cuts. The importance for competitiveness of non–price factors is often overlooked.
The EESC welcomes this legislative proposal which ensures the effective resolution of failing financial institutions within the EU, and supports the introduction of harmonised rules regarding intra-group financial support. The Committee also stresses that the Central Banks, including the ECB, have to be involved in the assessment of the recovery and resolution plans, while remaining independent. Professional advice of consumer organisations, trade union representatives, etc., should also be sought. The Committee encourages a greater degree of certainty for the institutions by introducing explicit and more clearly defined rules. The opinion demands more clearly defined rules for the Special Manager (SM) as a highly intrusive early intervention measure, and points out the need for additional clarifications regarding both the bail-in tool and the Resolution Authorities (RAs).
The EESC welcomes a banking union to place the banking sector on a more sound footing and restore confidence in the euro as part of a longer-term vision for economic and fiscal integration. Shifting the supervision of banks to the European level is a key part of this process, which must subsequently be combined with other steps such as a common system for deposit protection, and integrated bank crisis management. A banking union would represent a step towards the euro zone and the EU as a whole embarking on a virtuous cycle overcoming its design flaws and enabling the single market to regain competitiveness.
The EESC feels that the triple objective of the Europe 2020 strategy, i.e., smart, sustainable and inclusive-cohesive growth, is generally appropriate; however, in order to achieve it, a well-balanced macroeconomic policy mix and structural reforms together with more and better instruments are needed. The EU needs to show that it has the necessary political will and a specific vision of substantially closer integration. All the funds and programmes should be more tailored to the social goals of Europe 2020, and work on drawing up a European Territorial Strategy must be accelerated. It is vital to ensure much broader involvement of experts and public opinion in preparing decisions.