Year LX, 2018, Single Issue

 

 

Prospects for Completion of the Economic and Monetary Union: Community Proposals and Franco-German Pressure

 

LUCA LIONELLO

 

 

1. Introduction.

Contrary to the predictions of many, the British decision in the Brexit referendum, rather than signalling the end of the European Union, has had the effect of propelling the latter into a new phase of the integration process, in which, no longer able to hide behind the convenient excuse of the British veto, the governments are finally coming together to discuss various projects concerning the creation of a common defence,[1] the fight against terrorism, the management of migration policies,[2] and, above all, the completion of the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU). The creation of a eurozone economic government, given that this would require transfers of sovereignty that would turn Europe into a true political union,has become, in many regards, the key issue on which efforts to bring about an effective relaunch of the process of European unification now hinge. This is why proposals for completion of the EMU have multiplied in the wake of the Brexit referendum. In May 2017, the Spanish government suggested the creation of a common eurozone budget and reform of the Stability and Growth Pact.[3] In September 2017, French president Emmanuel Macron delivered a solemn speech at the Sorbonne in which he affirmed the urgent need to create “a united, sovereign and democratic Europe” and proposed that the EMU should be completed through the creation of a separate eurozone budget that would be under parliamentary control at eurozone level.[4] Just a few months later, in December 2017, the European Commission formalised a set of proposals designed to strengthen the economic union, namely to create new governance instruments and absorb, into the Community legal framework, intergovernmental reforms adopted at the height of the sovereign debt crisis.[5] Finally, in Germany in recent times, euro area reform has been one of the main issues debated in the context of efforts to form a new grand coalition government between conservatives and social democrats following the country’s national elections in autumn 2017.[6]

In view of the current political debate and its importance for the future of European integration, this article sets out to analyse the various proposals put forward so far and to identify the main legal difficulties that could complicate efforts to complete the EMU.

 

2. The Economic and Monetary Union today.

Before analysing the reform proposals, it is worth looking briefly at the characteristics of the EMU today. The decision to create the single currency was taken in Maastricht in 1992, and its introduction was preceded by an almost decade-long process of convergence between the participating countries. The creation of the single currency marked an important advance in the process of European integration, because currency is one of the key areas in which a sovereign state exercises its authority, and a common monetary policy demands strong economic and political integration between member states. Responsibility for monetary policy in the euro area currently lies with the European Central Bank (ECB), which exercises this role completely independently, pursuing the primary objective of price stability. However, the sharing of monetary sovereignty at European level has not led to the creation of a corresponding shared fiscal capacity. The member states have refused to assign this competence to the European institutions, with the result that the nation-state remains the only authority able to collect and spend public resources. Thus, the European Union, having no independent power of taxation and being unable to borrow,[7] currently has a limited role: it manages a small budget, which is essentially financed through national contributions, and it ensures the correct functioning of the internal market.[8] In order to guarantee convergence of economic policies within the eurozone and sufficient robustness of national budgets in the event of crises, the economic union has adopted a “surveillance model”,[9]according to which budgetary policies continue to be a national competence, but are coordinated at European level by the Commission and the Council, which exercise supervisory and sanctioning powers in the event of any serious non-compliance. Viewed in the light of these important differences, the EMU can be seen to show a fundamental asymmetry between the economic union, which is based on coordination of the national sovereign authorities, and the monetary union, which is instead endowed with a European-level sovereignty that is independent of that of the member states.

The explosion of the sovereign debt crisis in 2009 exposed all the weaknesses deriving from this asymmetry, and forced the member states and European institutions to confront the need to embark on a difficult process of reform.

The first stage in this process consisted of the creation of an emergency mechanism to guarantee financial assistance to countries experiencing serious financing difficulties that threaten the stability of the eurozone as a whole. Following the establishment, in 2010,[10] of several provisional mechanisms, in 2012 the eurozone countries created the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) through an intergovernmental agreement outside the framework of the European Treaties. This financial institution can provide loans, offer credit lines, make primary and secondary market purchases of government bonds, and guarantee direct and indirect recapitalisation of the banking system. This aid can be provided at the request of the country concerned, on the condition that the latter complies with a programme of adjustment of its economic and financial system to be agreed with the creditor countries in a Memorandum of Understanding. The European Commission plays an important role in negotiating the loan conditions and supervising compliance with them.

The second stage in the reform process concerned the supervision of national economic and budgetary policies.[11] The level of European supervision was stepped up through the introduction of the possibility of semi-automatic sanctions in the event of failure to comply with the European rules on public finance management. The Commission and Council then began to monitor the soundness of the member states, considering not only the deficit and debt parameters, but also macroeconomic imbalances. Finally, a procedure for assisted adoption of national budgets was introduced, under which the budget cycle of member states is monitored, step by step, from January through to December, yet without the Community institutions having a true power of veto. In this context of stricter fiscal discipline, 25 EU member states signed the Treaty on Stability, Coordination and Governance (TSCG, commonly known as the fiscal compact), whose main innovation was the obligation it placed on the signatory countries to introduce the balanced budget rule into their constitutional systems.[12]

Finally, the third stage in the reform process saw the introduction of the banking union in order to put a stop to the vicious cycle of banking and sovereign debt crises that was destabilising the euro area. This project has already seen the completion of several pillars: 2013 saw the establishment of an ECB-led single supervisory mechanism serving to monitor compliance with the rules on prudential supervision,[13] while 2014 brought the creation of a single resolution mechanism equipped with a single resolution fund[14] serving to support and help with the restructuring of struggling banks.[15] Instead, other pillars of the banking union still remain to be completed: a European deposit guarantee scheme and provision for emergency fiscal support in the event of a systemic banking crisis.

Alongside these reforms, the crisis demanded the extraordinary intervention of the ECB that, adopting some unconventional measures, proved able to ensure the stability of the financial system and of the monetary union. Among the aforementioned measures, we can cite the injection of emergency liquidity into the European banking system as from 2009,[16] programmes for the purchase of sovereign bonds issued by states targeted by speculative attacks (Securities Market Programme and Outright Monetary Transactions programme),[17] which served to safeguard the monetary policy transmission mechanism, and the ECB’s Quantitative Easing programme[18] that was introduced with the aim of averting the risk of deflation in the euro area.

 

3. The persistent weaknesses of the EMU.

The reforms of economic governance adopted so far have had the important merit of making it possible to manage the emergency situation created following the outbreak of the sovereign debt crisis, but they have not managed to overcome the structural weaknesses underlying the asymmetry between the economic side and the monetary side of EMU.

The first difficulty concerns compliance with budgetary discipline. When the member states of a monetary union retain their full fiscal capacity, they tend to engage in “moral hazard” behaviour in the management of their budgetary policy: public spending is increased beyond sustainable levels in the knowledge that the costs of an excessive debt burden will be shared with other countries. This sharing happens as a result of two mechanisms:[19] i) deficit growth in one member state automatically leads to an increase in the financing costs for the others; ii) the risk of contagion, in the event of a monetary union member state reaching the brink of bankruptcy, inevitably forces the other governments to implement rescue policies in extremis, and the central bank to monetise all or part of the indebted country’s public debt.

The second difficulty concerns the inability of the EMU to absorb the economic shocks that can affect the European economy during economic downturns. With the sole exception of times of systemic crisis, when the ESM can provide them with (only) emergency aid subject to conditionality, the capacity of the European countries to manage periods of recession and stagnation differs. At the same time, the capacity of governments to modernise their economic systems through the adoption of structural reforms also differs. This results in a divided and heterogeneous euro area, in which the member states’ economic conditions are divergent and the citizens experience different levels of wellbeing and protection, according to where they live.

Alongside the structural weaknesses undermining the pursuit of stability and convergence, the economic union also suffers from another structural weakness, in this case linked specifically to the legitimacy of and level of consensus on decisions taken within the framework of economic governance. The adoption of a model based on increasingly strict and rigid surveillance of national budgets has had the effect of weakening democratic control over the management of national fiscal policies and resulted in European rules on coordination being increasingly perceived as imposed by technical or intergovernmental bodies, rather than by institutions accountable to the citizens. This disaffection with the European authorities became particularly marked in the period after the crisis when many countries were forced to adopt austerity measures to rapidly consolidate their public finances and win back the trust of both the markets and their partners. The “inter-institutional dialogue” between the intergovernmental bodies that make decisions (such as the Council) and the parliamentary bodies that need to be informed and can ask for explanations about political choices (European Parliament and national parliaments) is clearly insufficient to guarantee effective democratic control of the mechanisms of economic governance.

 

4. Completion of the economic side of EMU: the Commission’s proposals.

The European Commission has played a very important role in the process of reforming the economic side of EMU. Since the outbreak of the sovereign debt crisis, it has launched several legislative initiatives aimed at strengthening the governance of the euro area and establishing a banking union. This is illustrated both by the reform of the Stability and Growth Pact through the adoption of the so-called Six-Pack and Two-Pack, and by the establishment of the Single Supervisory Mechanism and the Single Resolution Mechanism in the framework of the Banking Union. During the same period, the Commission has also promoted a more structured and extensive process of EMU reform. In a series of official documents, the Commission, first under Barroso and then under Juncker, has analysed, in depth, the current deficiencies of EMUand suggested a number of projects designed to fill these gaps.[20] In the wake of the Brexit referendum, the Commission’s reformist efforts have focused on completion of the EMU. In his State of the Union Address, delivered on 13 September 2017, president Juncker put forward a number of ideas on ways to strengthen the governance of the euro area, which were then made explicit last December in several legislative proposals of the European Commission, to be implemented by 2025.

The first of these proposals is that of incorporating the intergovernmental instruments created at the height of the sovereign debt crisis into the EU’s legal framework. First of all, a European Monetary Fund (EMF), to replace the ESM, should be established through activation of the ‘flexibility clause’ set out in art. 352 TFEU.[21] Anchored within the EU’s legal framework, the proposed EMF would have broader competences than the ESM: in addition to providing last resort conditional financial support to struggling eurozone countries, it would serve as a backstop (“safety net”) for the Single Resolution Fund in the context of a more solid banking union. Second, the terms of the TSCG (fiscal compact) should be transposed into a new European directive.[22] This move would serve to simplify the legal framework of economic coordination and allow better and continuous monitoring of compliance with the Treaty within the European Union.

The second proposal concerns the creation of a dedicated euro area budget line within the EU budget.[23] This is the most significant project and also the only true innovation contained in the Commission’s package of legislative proposals. The purpose of this proposed reform is to enable the EU budget to exert a true economic stabilisation effect, in addition to the functions it already carries out in support of the internal market. In particular, the proposal outlines four roles for the new budget line, specifying that it should be able to: promote and support structural reforms in the member states in order to achieve greater resilience of economic structures and better convergence in performances; support euro area member states so that they can respond better to rapidly changing economic circumstances and stabilise their economies in the event of large asymmetric shocks; facilitate the convergence of member states on their way to joining the euro; sever the link between sovereign debt and the situation of the banks, so as to reduce systemic risks and reinforce the collective response capacity in the face of possible major bank failures. The proposal remains vague on the question of the amount of resources actually needed to make the EU budget truly capable of performing these new functions. At present, no increase in the overall level of expenditure is foreseen, given that substantial increases in available resources will be possible only in the new post-2020 multiannual financial framework.

Finally, the last proposal is to strengthen the institutional framework of the euro area through the creation of a European economy and finance minister able to play an interlocutory role and promote coordination within the framework of eurozone economic governance.[24] Under the proposal, “the function of the Minister as Vice-President of the Commission could be established as part of the appointment of the next Commission as from November 2019.” At the same time, “the Eurogroup could agree to elect the Minister as its President for two consecutive mandates, thus agreeing on an alignment of its mandate with the mandate of the Commission.”

 

5. The limits of the Community approach to the creation of a fiscal union.

The Commission’s proposals on completion of the economic side of EMU have the merit of identifying the most serious deficits of the current system of governance and indicating the right direction to follow in order to try and overcome them. In particular, the creation of a fiscal capacity capable of guaranteeing the stability of the euro area as a whole and of promoting convergence would certainly be a decisive step forwards in terms of correcting the asymmetry that currently exists between the monetary union and the economic union. Furthermore, the identification of a figure responsible for economic policy, providing he or she were invested with real powers and made effectively accountable to the representatives of the citizens, could help to bridge the democratic deficit that has always characterised euro area governance. However, on closer inspection, the Commission’s proposals, outlined above, also have a number of limitations, which could hinder the effective completion of the economic union.

An initial difficulty concerns the necessary financial resources. None of the Commission’s proposals envisages the creation of a fiscal capacity that enjoys autonomy from the governments and is also sufficient to absorb large-scale economic crises. On the one hand, the future EMF, as conceived in the Commission proposal, would become part of the EU’s legal framework, but the member states’ resources would continue to be theirs alone. Indeed, as stated in article 8 of the draft statute of the EMF, “the liability of each EMF member shall be limited, in all circumstances, to its portion of the authorised capital stock at its issue price. No EMF member shall be liable, by reason of its membership, for obligations of the EMF.” This is borne out by the fact that the rules governing activation of the EMF would be virtually the same as those currently governing activation of the ESM, i.e. the decisions almost always have to be adopted by unanimity or by reinforced qualified majority (the latter representing 85% of the subscribed capital), which would give Germany, France and Italy the power of veto.[25] With regard to the budget line within the EU budget, on the other hand, the main limitation would be the amount of resources available for the project. Despite identifying a number of new functions that would certainly require a massive mobilisation of capital (for example convergence, stabilisation and promotion of reforms), the Commission’s communication remains essentially vague in this regard: it mentions only a sum of EUR 300 million that the Commission would immediately like to make available for structural reforms for the period up to 2020, and net payments of at least 1% of EU GDP that should be accounted for in the next multiannual framework programme as stabilisation resources to protect the eurozone against the effects of possible financial shocks. One point that the communication instead reiterates very clearly is that the creation of a dedicated euro area budget line, given that this must still be based on national contributions or, it is to be hoped, on new own resources, would neither undermine the principle that the EU budget must be in balance, nor require the creation of European bonds or European taxes. Under these conditions it is clear that the euro area budget within the EU budget would play a little more than a symbolic role; indeed, while it would certainly have the capacity to mobilise some resources to foster economic recovery and structural reforms, these would be effective only in the case of limited crises affecting individual countries.[26]

The second difficulty concerns the implementation of the reform. To be adopted, the Commission’s proposals on completion of the economic union need to have the consent of all the member states, including those that are not part of the euro area and even, until March 2019, of the United Kingdom. The legal basis for recourse to the EMF would be provided by the ‘flexibility clause’ in art. 352 TFEU. Under the terms of this provision, when the Union lacks the necessary powers to attain one of the objectives set out in the Treaties, the Council, acting on a proposal from the Commission and after obtaining the consent of the European Parliament, may adopt the appropriate measures. In order to implement this procedure, however, the governments of all the states represented in the Council must be in unanimous agreement, given that each has the right to veto the activation of the clause. The creation of a dedicated euro area budget line within the current EU budget raises a similar difficulty. Indeed, were this instrument to be introduced as part of the next multiannual financial framework, for the post-2020 period, as the Commission envisages, a unanimous vote by the Council would be necessary, in line with the procedure set out in art. 312 (2) TFEU. In conclusion, the introduction of specific mechanisms for the euro area within the 28-member EU framework necessarily entails going through all the hoops of unanimity voting, which means giving every member state the power of veto. In this situation, it is not inconceivable that countries hostile to the creation of a European fiscal sovereignty, even in an embryonic form, might seek to hamper the reforms, being fearful of one day finding themselves shackled to the power-sharing process involved. This is particularly plausible in the case of the governments that are currently being monitored by the Commission through a special supervisory procedure following breaches of the principles of the rule of law,[27] or that oppose the EU-wide refugee resettlement scheme.[28] Clearly, to make the eurozone reforms dependent upon the unanimous vote of the member states would give these countries a powerful tool for political blackmail.

The last major flaw in the Commission’s proposals on completion of eurozone governance concerns the overcoming of the democratic deficit. Indeed, the proposed new mechanisms fail to envisage any significant role for the institutions that represent the citizens. As regards the EMF, all that is envisaged is simple inter-institutional dialogue with the national and European parliaments, which, however, remain excluded from the decision-making process. Indeed, under the proposal, each year the EMF would send the European Parliament, Council and Commission a report on its activities, which would also include annual accounts and financial statements. At the same time, the managing director could, at the request of the European Parliament or on his own initiative, be heard by the competent committees of the European Parliament with regard to the EMF’s performance. The national parliaments, on the other hand, would be entitled only to be informed and to request further clarification about the Fund’s activities. Consequently, the real decisions would be taken exclusively at the intergovernmental level, by the Board of Governors, as happens today with the ESM. As regards the proposed additional budget line for the euro area, it is true that the European Parliament has full powers, together with the Council, to adopt the EU budget. However, it should not be forgotten that the annual statements are approved within the multiannual financial framework, and that the latter is an area where the Parliament remains notoriously subordinate to the Council, having the capacity only to approve what the latter has already decided unanimously. In general, the reforms show no sign of a will to involve the institutions representing the citizens in the decision-making processes concerning the new fiscal policy instruments that the Union might finally adopt.

 

6. Macron’s speech on the future of Europe.

The legal and political obstacles to implementation of the European Commission proposals provide clear evidence that the creation of a true fiscal union within the euro area is a complex and ambitious undertaking that cannot be achieved through limited reforms within the existing legal framework, since it demands the initiation of a profound re-form of the European and national legal order. Indeed, fiscal capacity, given that it determines the resources available for the pursuit of other policy goals, is intimately bound up with the exercise of state sovereignty, even more so than monetary competence. In this sense, the creation of a fiscal authority at European level will necessarily have profound implications with regard to Kompetenz-Kompetenz,[29] in other words, the extent to which the EU has the power to establish its own competences, and thus to be self-determining, like any other sovereign body.[30] Viewed from this perspective the creation of a common tax system would be a very ambitious step forward towards the creation of a European political union.

In the light of these considerations, the European Commission’s justifiable aspirations to provide the euro area with a true autonomous budget will become credible, and its approach fully effective, only if the ultimate holders of sovereignty, i.e. the national governments, show that they are ready to overcome the limitations of the current Community framework. Now, unexpectedly, and in many ways incredibly, this is what seems to be happening in political debate between France and Germany. French president Emmanuel Macron famously made the need to re-found Europe the central message in his presidential campaign and, since his election, he has strongly reiterated the importance of relaunching the European project, advancing a series of concrete proposals concerning, first of all, the euro area. In Germany, meanwhile, the negotiations between conservatives and social democrats prior to the formation of a new grand coalition government have revolved around the issue of reform and completion of the economic union.

The French president, in a speech given at the Sorbonne on September 26th 2017, made a particularly significant contribution to the political debate on the constitutional reform of the euro area, setting out his ideas for the creation of a sovereign, united and democratic Europe.[31] Europe should be endowed with sovereignty in a range of policy areas, ranging from common security to the fight against terrorism and crime, from the management of migration policies to technological, digital and environmental development. These are the areas in which the single nation-states have found themselves stripped of effective sovereignty as an effect of globalisation, and this sovereignty can be regained only through the creation of common instruments at European level. But the issue right at the heart of Macron’s Sorbonne speech was, once again, the pursuit of fiscal union and, in particular, the need to create a separate eurozone budget outside the existing Community framework. With regard to the necessary resources, Macron has mooted the possibility of creating “European taxes”, for example on taxes on companies, financial transactions, and polluting products (such as coal), as well as a web tax. According to the French president, a eurozone budget, thus funded, would be able to perform some key functions, such as ensuring the stability of the euro area against economic shocks, promoting convergence between member countries, and above all financing common European assets in key fields: security, immigration, digital technology, the environment and European industry. Another important element of Macron’s proposal is that the budget of the euro area will necessarily have to be placed under the strong political guidance of a European finance minister and be subject to strict parliamentary control at European level. The French president, in his speech, made no mention of a series of proposals previously advanced by the French government, such as the creation of euro bonds, pooling of the existing debt, and the establishment of a separate parliament for the euro area.

It was, quite clearly, a brave and ambitious speech. It remains to be seen whether the French president will be able to keep his promises and meet the high expectations he has raised, or whether he will, instead, opt to fall back on less ambitious projects for France and Europe. A lot will depend on the position of the new German government. It is important to note, however, that Macron’s proposals show that, in the wake of a long period during which France had considered the question untouchable, reform of the European Treaties is no longer a taboo topic;[32] it also marks France’s new commitment to implementing a serious programme of structural reforms at national level. However, the main merit of Macron’s Sorbonne speech remains the fact that it brought into focus the real issue upon which the process of completing EMU depends, namely the creation of a core of European sovereignty.

 

7. Conclusions.

The limits set by the existing legal framework are such that plans to create a eurozone fiscal authority accountable to the citizens can succeed only in the context of a very broad reform of the existing Treaties. This reform should involve adoption of the differentiated integration model based on two concentric circles, the inner circle being formed by the euro area, within which there should be a true fiscal union. In this perspective, it is crucial, with the European parliamentary elections of Spring 2019 on the horizon, that member states and Community institutions prove able to draw up a common project for relaunching the integration process.


[1] For example, on 11 December 2017, the Council adopted a decision establishing Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) in the area of security and defense policy. Cf. www.consilium.europa.eu/it/press/press-releases/2017/12/11/defence-cooperation-pesco-25-member-states-participating/.

[2] The Parliament and Council are discussing reform of the Dublin Regulation on the management of asylum applications. Cf. Proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing the criteria and mechanisms for determining the member state responsible for examining an application for international protection lodged in one of the member states by a third-country national or a stateless person (recast)[COM(2016)0270 – C8-0173/2016 – 2016/0133(COD)].

[3] Cf. T. Buck, Spain urges sweeping reforms on eurozone to correct flaws, Financial Times, 14 June 2017.

[4] Initiative pour l’Europe - Discours d’Emmanuel Macron pour une Europe souveraine, unie, démocratique, Paris, 26 September 2017.

[5] European Commission, press release, Commission sets out Roadmap for deepening Europe's Economic and Monetary Union, Brussels, 6 December, 2017.

[6] Union und SPD wollen Verhandlungen bis 4. Februar abschließen, Suddeutsche Zeitung, 26 January 2018.

[7] Art. 310 TFEU stipulates that revenue and expenditure shown in the EU budget must be in balance.

[8] The annual EU budget amounts to around 1% of the GDP generated by the member states. It is regulated by the multiannual financial framework which sets the annual maximum amounts that the EU can spend. The budget revenue comes from traditional own resources (customs duties and agricultural levies), the application of a uniform rate of 0.3% to the VAT assessment base of each member state, harmonized in accordance with Community rules, and for the most part from national contributions proportional to the gross national income (GNI) of each country. The main items of expenditure are the common agricultural policy and the cohesion policy.

[9] A. Hinarejos, Fiscal Federalism in the European Union: Evolution and Future Choices for EMU, Common Market Law Review, 50 (2013), p. 1621.

[10] The European Financial Stability Facility was a limited liability company subject to Luxembourg created among the countries of the eurozone following a decision taken by the Eurogroup on 7 June, 2010. It had a fixed duration of three years and had a lending capacity of 440 billion euros. The European Financial Stabilisation Mechanism, on the other hand, was a fund created through Council Regulation (EU) No 407/2010 on the basis of art. 122 (2) TFEU and guaranteed by the European budget. It was authorised to raise up to 60 billion euros.

[11] The reform process was carried out in two phases. November 2011 saw the adoption of the so-called Six-Pack, comprising: Regulation (EU) No 1173/2011 on the effective enforcement of budgetary surveillance in the euro area; Regulation (EU) No 1174/2011 on enforcement measures to correct excessive macroeconomic imbalances in the euro area; Regulation (EU) No 1175/2011 amending Council Regulation (EC) No 1466/97;Regulation (EU) No 1176/2011 on the prevention and correction of macroeconomic imbalances; Council Regulation (EU) No 1177/2011 amending Regulation (EC) No 1467/97; CouncilDirective 2011/85/EU on requirements for budgetary frameworks of the member states. The reform was completed by the so-called Two-Pack. Approved in May 2013, this comprised: Regulation (EU) No 472/2013 on the strengthening of economic and budgetary surveillance of member states in the euro area experiencing or threatened with serious difficulties with respect to their financial stability; Regulation (EU) No 473/2013 on common provisions for monitoring and assessing draft budgetary plans and ensuring the correction of excessive deficit of the member states in the euro area.

[12] Article 3 of the Treaty stipulates that the “budgetary position of the general government” of a contracting party “shall be balanced or in surplus”.

[13] Council Regulation (EU) No 1024/2013 conferring specific tasks on the European Central Bank concerning policies relating to the prudential supervision of credit institutions.

[14] Regulation (EU) No 806/2014 establishing uniform rules and a uniform procedure for the resolution of credit institutions and certain investment firms in the framework of a Single Resolution Mechanism and a Single Resolution Fund and amending Regulation (EU) No 1093/2010.

[15] The Single Resolution Fund is used to rescue failing banks when the other options are exhausted. Its resources (€ 55 billion) come from contributions from the banking sector.

[16] Cf. The ECB’s enhanced credit support, Keynote address by Jean-Claude Trichet, President of the ECB, University of Munich, 13 July 2009.

[17] The Securities Market Programme was established through a decision of the European Central Bank of 14 May 2010 establishing a programme for the financial securities market (ECB / 2010/5). The Outright Monetary Transactions instrument was instead created through a decision of the Governing Council of the ECB of 6 September 2012 on technical features regarding outright monetary transactions.

[18] The ECB launched its Quantitative Easing programme on 22 January 2015. Cf. ECB press release: ECB announces expanded asset purchase programme. Text available at: www.ecb.europa.eu/press/pr/date/2015/html/pr150122_1.en.html.

[19] Cf. P. De Grauwe, Economics of Monetary Union, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2016, p. 225.

[20] November 2012 saw the publication of a blueprint on EMU setting out a series of proposed short-, medium- and long-term reforms designed to guarantee the stability of the project through the establishment of a series of new unions alongside the monetary one, in particular the banking union, fiscal union and political union. In June 2015, President Juncker, in cooperation with the presidents of the other European institutions, published a report on the completion of the Economic and Monetary Union.

[21] Proposal for a Council regulation on the establishment of the European Monetary Fund, COM (2017) 827 final.

[22] Proposal for a Council Directive laying down provisions for strengthening fiscal responsibility and the medium-term budgetary orientation in the Member States, COM (2017) 824 final.

[23] Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the European Council, the Council and the European Central Bank – New budgetary instruments for a stable euro area within the Union framework, COM (2017) 822 final.

[24] Communication from the Commission on a European Minister of Economy and Finance, COM (2017) 823 final.

[25] Cf. articles 4 and 5 of the draft statue of the EMF set out in the annex to the Proposal for a Council regulation on the establishment of the European Monetary Fund, COM (2017) 827 final.

[26] The ideal dimensions of a stabilising function for the euro area is debated among economists. The 1977 MacDougall report famously indicated the need for a steady increase in the budget, in particular up to 2.0 per cent - 2.5 per cent of GDP in a pre-federal phase, from 5 per cent – 7 per cent of GDP in an intermediate phase and up to 25 per cent in the event of the establishment of a true political union. Cf. Report of the Study Group on the Role of Public Finance in European Integration, Commission of the European Communities (1977).

[27] Cf. B. Romano, UE: in Polonia Stato di diritto a rischio, sì a procedura di sanzioni, Il Sole 24 Ore, 20 December 2017.

[28] Opposition to the Commission’s proposals on reform of Dublin mechanisms for the distribution of refugees among all the member states is mounted, in particular, by the four countries making up the so-called Visegrad Group: Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary.

[29] A. Hinarejos, The Euro Area Crisis and Constitutional Limits to Fiscal Integration, Cambridge Yearbook of European Legal Studies, 14 (2012), p. 262.

[30] It is therefore no coincidence that the creation of a European tax system was theoretically excluded by national constitutional courts on the basis that it fell within the “reserved domain” of national identity. Cf. German Federal Constitutional Court, ruling of 20 June 2009, [2 BvE 2/08] para 252.

[31] Initiative pour l’Europe, op. cit..

[32] L. Pasha-Robinson, Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel agree changing EU treaties ‘no longer a taboo’, The Independent, 15 May 2017.

 

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