The ECO section discusses the Commission's package on Deepening EMU with Valdis Dombrovskis, Roberto Gualtieri and other institutional and civil society representatives
On 26 January 2016, the EESC's Section for Economic and Monetary Union and Economic and Social Cohesion (ECO) held a thematic debate on the Commission's Deepening EMU package that was presented in October 2015. The package outlines the roadmap and some specific proposals for a stronger and genuine Economic and Monetary Union (EMU). In order to gain a complete overview on the current state of EMU and on the future developments, the ECO section invited a number of distinguished speakers to present the perspectives of the European Parliament, the Commission, the financial institutions and the European civil society.
Overall, the debate proved once again that under the current circumstances it is very difficult to find a solution to Europe's pressing economic problems in an EMU which is only half-way built. To be able to complete it, the Member States need to engage further in a process of upward convergence within and among them, which requires also a comprehensive institutional framework. Roberto Gualtieri (Chair of the ECON committee at the European Parliament) highlighted that on the way towards a genuine EMU the role of the European Parliament in the democratic governance and oversight of the Union's economic policy had to be strengthened. Valdis Dombrovskis (Vice-President of the European Commission) outlined the steps to be taken by the European Commission following the Five President's Report and underscored the importance of restarting growth and convergence in the EU. Jeffrey Franks (Director of the IMF Europe Office and Senior Resident Representative to the EU) summarised the policy proposals of the IMF aimed at boosting investment and productivity in the EU Member States, and emphasised that the representation of the EU in the IMF was an issue that had to be addressed first and foremost by the EU itself. Frank Moss (Director-General for International and European Relations at the ECB) insisted on the need for a more balanced policy mix in the EU, combining monetary policy action together with a joint exercise of sovereignty over economic policy-making. Luc Denayer (Secretary-General of the Central Economic Council of Belgium) gave an overview of the Belgian legal framework and experience with competitiveness issues, offering as a conclusion some important considerations to be taken into account if the proposed system of national competitiveness boards in the euro area was to be set up. Finally, Sergio Ernesto Santillán Cabeza (rapporteur's expert for the EESC opinion on the Annual Growth Survey 2016) advocated the urgent need for improving the investment climate and restoring the fiscal buffers in Europe and underlined that in order to achieve the goals set out in the Europe 2020 strategy the EU's economic governance had to be strengthened.
The debate was closed by the observations and statements of the EESC rapporteurs who are currently working on a series of opinions related to the Commission's Deepening EMU package. The ECO section president Mr van Iersel, as well as the rapporteurs Mr Cedrone, Mr Ikrath, Ms Demelenne, Mr Delapina, Mr Croughan and Mr Zahradník, all thanked the ECO members and the guest-speakers for their input and assured them that the points made would be duly taken into consideration when drawing up the relevant texts. The EESC opinions on the Deepening EMU package are expected to be presented to the EESC Plenary in March.