Macroeconomic imbalances

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EESC opinion: Macroeconomic imbalances

Key points:

The EESC considers that the scoreboard for assessing imbalances should be made up of economic, financial and social indicators. Here, the EESC would point to the need to look at the imbalances arising from wide and widening inequalities of distribution within the Member States, which were among the causes of the recent economic and financial crisis.

The EESC believes that the scoreboard proposed by the Commission as part of the alert mechanism must essentially be considered as a tool for an initial evaluation, on account of the inherent technical problems of this approach (setting the alert thresholds, the "weighting" to be given to the various sources of imbalance, relevant timeframe). Consequently, it will, in any case, have to be followed by a more wide-reaching and detailed economic evaluation of the imbalances in the Member State in question.

The EESC is convinced that, with respect to measures to prevent macroeconomic imbalances – essentially linked to excessive private sector exposure to debt – the supervisory and control capacity that can be deployed by the European Central Bank (ECB), the European System of Central Banks, the European Systemic Risk Board and the European Banking Authority has been underestimated. As one aspect of coordination between these bodies, the EESC therefore calls for the groundwork to be laid to ensure effective direct or indirect surveillance of the banking system, accompanied by timely interventions to regulate credit.

The occurrence of asymmetric shocks in the euro area Member States means that tools to rebalance the macroeconomic system must be used. In this context, the EESC advocates assessing the potential of a more flexible and better-resourced Community budget system than at present.

The EESC stresses that effective coordination of European economic policies – capable of gaining strong democratic credentials with the European public – necessarily entails a stronger role for the European Parliament (EP), the Committee of the Regions and the EESC, in other words the institutions representing citizens, the social partners and civil society.

The EESC hopes that more intensive use will progressively be made of macroeconomic dialogue, so as not to leave the prevention and correction of macroeconomic imbalances to the Commission and Member States governments alone.