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Designing a Genuine EMU: Which "Unions" for EU and Eurozone? Bruges European Economic Policy (BEEP) Briefing 34/2014

Pelkmans, Jacques. (2014) Designing a Genuine EMU: Which "Unions" for EU and Eurozone? Bruges European Economic Policy (BEEP) Briefing 34/2014. [Policy Paper]

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    The initial ‘framing’ (in the summer of 2012) of the ‘genuine EMU’ for the wider public suggested to design an entire series of ‘unions’. So many ‘unions’ are neither necessary nor desirable – only some are and their design matters. The paper critically discusses first the negative fall-out of the crisis for EMU, and subsequently assesses the fiscal and the banking unions as accomplished so far, without going into highly specific technical details. The assessment is moderately positive, although there is ample scope for further improvement and a risk for short-term turbulence once the ECB has finished its tests and reviews. What about the parade of other ’unions’ such as economic union, social union and political union? The macro-economic imbalances procedure (MIP) and possibly the ESRB have overcome the pre-crisis disregard of macro competitiveness. The three components of ‘economic union’ (single market, economic policy coordination and budgetary disciplines) have all been strengthened. The last two ‘unions’, on the other hand, would imply a fundamental change in the conferral of powers to the EU/ Eurozone, with drastic and possibly very serious long-run implications, including a break-up of the Union, if such proposals would be pushed through. The cure is worse than the disease. Whereas social union is perhaps easier to dismiss as a ‘misfit’ in the EU, the recent popularity of suggesting a ‘political union’ is seen as worrisome. Probably, nobody knows what a ‘political union’ is, or, at best, it is a highly elastic notion: it might be thought necessary for reasons of domestic economic reforms in EU countries, for a larger common budget, for some EU tax power, for (greater) risk pooling, for ‘symmetric’ macro-economic adjustment and for some ultimate control of the ECB in times of crisis. Taking each one of these arguments separately, a range of more typical EU solutions might be found without suggesting a ‘political union’. Just as ‘fiscal capacity’ was long an all-or-nothing taboo for shifting bank resolution to the EU level, now solved with a modest common Fund and carefully confined but centralised powers, the author suggests that other carefully targeted responses can be designed for the various aspects where seen as indispensable, including the political say of a lender-of-last-resort function of the ECB. Hence, neither a social nor a political union worthy of the name ought to be pursued. Yet, political legitimacy matters, both with national parliaments and the grassroots. National parliaments will have to play a larger role.

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    Item Type: Policy Paper
    Uncontrolled Keywords: Economic and Monetary Union; Banking Union; Political Union; Financial Crisis.
    Subjects for non-EU documents: EU policies and themes > Policies & related activities > economic and financial affairs > EMU/EMS/euro
    EU policies and themes > Policies & related activities > economic and financial affairs > financial crisis 2008-on/reforms/economic governance
    EU policies and themes > Policies & related activities > political affairs > political union & integration/European Political Union
    Subjects for EU documents: UNSPECIFIED
    EU Series and Periodicals: UNSPECIFIED
    EU Annual Reports: UNSPECIFIED
    Series: Series > College of Europe (Brugge) > Bruges European Economic Policy Briefings (BEEP)
    Depositing User: Phil Wilkin
    Official EU Document: No
    Language: English
    Date Deposited: 15 Dec 2014 15:57
    Number of Pages: 38
    Last Modified: 06 Jan 2015 16:06

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