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#EUROat20: stocktaking and challenges ahead

On 3 December 2018, the European Commission organised in the premises of Solvay Library in Brussels a conference to mark the 20th anniversary of the introduction of the single currency. The EESC was represented by a delegation of three members: Daniel Mareels, rapporteur on the European System of Financial Supervision, Javier Doz Orrit, rapporteur on the Euro area economic policy, and Michael Smyth, co-rapporteur on the European Investment Stabilisation Function.

Following a TED-style talk by Italian columnist Beppe Severgnini, there were two discussion panels with the participation of European Commission Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis, Commissioner Pierre Moscovici, Spanish Minister of Economy Nadia Calviño, Former ECB President Jean-Claude Trichet, ECB’s Supervisory Board Chair Danièle Nouy, MEP Eva Maydell, Philipp Kreibohm, Founder and Co-CEO of home24, and Charles Grant, biographer of Jacques Delors. The speakers took stock of the role the Euro has played in the European economy and society over the last 20 years and discussed the challenges ahead. They noted that the Euro is a big historical success and has immediately become the second reserve currency in the world. It has passed the test of the crisis and enjoys significant popular support according to the latest Eurobarometer surveys. Although the architecture of the Economic and Monetary Union has been reinforced during the crisis – notably through the introduction of the European Stability Mechanism, the Macroeconomic Imbalance Procedure and parts of a Banking Union – its functioning still needs to be underpinned by a number of additional elements, such as a European Deposit Insurance Scheme, some form of fiscal stabilisation support, and overall better governance and democratic accountability of euro area decision-making, all of which would make EMU more resilient to future economic shocks.

Taking the floor in the general debate that followed, EESC rapporteur Javier Doz Orrit asked the speakers whether the recent rise in populism around the EU was not due to people's trust in the Euro having diminished as a result of the crisis. This opened a discussion about the fight against mistrust and populism, which also includes matching the recent progress in risk-reduction with an appropriate level of risk-sharing in the euro area. To do this, in their upcoming deliberations before the European elections, political leaders need to show commitment, optimism and ambition, not just by transferring some elements of sovereignty to the European level, but also by sharing the consequences of common decision-making among all euro area countries. This would be the only path to guaranteeing both stability and convergence for the euro area and the EU as a whole.