Civil society and policy-makers discuss the future of the euro and how to take the deepening EMU process further
There is no viable alternative to a more political Eurozone, focusing more on the big priorities that matter for its citizens than on specific numerical targets and technical issues. Once again, the EESC calls on the European political leaders to accelerate the process of deepening Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) in order to ensure more convergence among the Member States and to make the EU as a whole more prosperous, competitive and resilient to external shocks, within a concept of shared sovereignty.
These were among the main messages of the high-level debate on What future for the euro? Threats and opportunities for stage 2 of deepening EMU which the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) organised on 2nd February. The aim of the event was to support the necessary consensus-building on an ambitious roadmap for completing Europe's EMU by 2025, as part of a global vision for the future of the EU.
"The citizens and economic actors of Europe urgently need to see a sense of ownership and direction by the European leadership, and even more so when discussing the missing blocks of a genuine EMU", said Joost van Iersel, President of the EESC's economic section. "The economic, fiscal, financial, social and political aspects need to move forward together, even if this takes a Treaty change – this is the only way to ensure that the EU integration process and the euro in particular can be sustainable".
Euro Working Group President, Thomas Wieser, made it clear that "The current legal framework of the EMU has reached its limits; we need real change. Even though the Euro is a stable currency on the global scene, the various Member States have very different perceptions of the role of fiscal policy. We lack structural convergence and that causes imbalances".
Massimo Suardi, Deputy Head of Cabinet of EC Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis, highlighted the current achievements and the need for a more positive narrative, while Alfred Camilleri, Permanent Secretary of the Maltese Ministry of Finance, presented the priorities of the Council Presidency in the field of EMU, including economic governance, investment, Capital Markets Union, taxation and financial services. "The Maltese Presidency counts on putting the White Paper on the future of Europe and EMU on the agenda already at the informal ECOFIN Council in April", he underlined.
This was followed by an expert panel which discussed the various threats and opportunities related to the completion of EMU during stage 2 as outlined in the Five Presidents' Report (2017-2025). The speakers coming from national, European and international institutions, as well as from a number of civil society organisations and think-tanks, presented a full range of ideas and options to be explored for the short-, medium- and long-term development of the Eurozone governance. Despite the different views on the specific mechanisms to be used, there was a wide consensus that we Europeans belong together and that in the current juncture political will to build upon a common sense of purpose is the missing element in solving the European conundrum.
The event was organised as a contribution to the forthcoming Commission's White Paper on the future of the EU, including the future of EMU, and to the European Summit discussions on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome in March this year.