Tuesday

2nd Jun 2020

IMF tells EU: Stop 'unproductive debate' and integrate 'now'

The International Monetary Fund has bluntly warned the European Union it must put an end to its "unproductive debate" over debt restructuring and, in an unprecedented outside intervention in the construction of the European Union, told the bloc it must integrate faster and more deeply in order to stop a global disaster.

Using much of the same censorious language about the EU that the EU has used about Greece, the international lender told the bloc to act "now" and that its handling of the situation "needs attention".

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

While "courageous attempts" have been made by the eurozone to address the crisis, "failure to undertake decisive action could rapidly spread the tensions to the core of the euro area and result in large global spillovers," read a report of the Fund's review mission investigating the effectiveness of eurozone policies, published on Monday (20 June).

Saying Europe is at a "crossroads", the IMF's acting director, John Lipsky, in Luxembourg for a meeting with EU finance ministers, declared: "The euro area needs to strengthen economic governance and may need to be more intrusive in terms of national structures."

Warning that all the euro area's efforts so far, including the so-called six-pack delivering economic governance, the EU semester system and the Euro Plus Pact while welcome, are not enough to prevent "global spillovers" from the crisis, the IMF said that still "more economic and financial integration" and EU intervention in national economies is necessary.

The Fund's European director, Antonio Borges, even went so far as to compare the unification process unfavourably to that which happened in the United States over a century ago.

"We really believe that many of the current problems result from incomplete integration," he told reporters upon presentation of the report.

"In the process of developing monetary union like the United States, which is a fully integrated monetary union, you have obstacles that magnify the problem," he said.

Specifically, the report mentioned that "without political union" and fiscal transfers, "stronger governance of the euro area is indispensable."

The report also demanded deeper integration of labour markets, the flow of goods and services markets and, crucially, capital.

The IMF's review of eurozone policies, parallel to the review the EU-IMF-ECB troika mounts of bail-out countries and the recommendations the European Commission has recently issued regarding EU member state economic policies, is part of the Fund's new "toolkit" developed in the wake of the global financial crisis.

The process sees IMF missions speak to authorities from each of the world's five leading economic areas and asks them the impact of the policies of other leading economies on their own. The result of these consultations is then compiled in a mission report.

The IMF's EU report also said the ECB should proceed "gradually" and "cautiously" in hiking interest rates so as to "limit stress" to the eurozone periphery.

The report went on to say that the EU needs to announce what it will do to resolve problems in the banking sector before stress test results are announced, adding that preference should be given to market-based solutions, but that "public support may be necessary ... in a manner co-ordinated across the EU."

The IMF called for progress towards common depositor insurance, banking management and crisis prevention, with a European Resolution Authority the "ultimate goal" backed by a deposit guarantee and resolution fund to deliver a "euro area centred backstop for both liquidity and solvency support."

In its sharpest language, the document said: "It will be essential to bring the unproductive debate about debt reprofiling or restructuring to closure quickly."

"Policies to stop contagion from sovereign debt adjustment or re-profiling are at a premium."

Vestager hits back at Lufthansa bailout criticism

Commission vice-president in charge of competition Margarethe Vestager argued that companies getting large capital injections from the state during the corona crisis still have to offset their competitive advantage.

German court questions bond-buying and EU legal regime

The German Constitutional court ordered the European Central Bank to explain its 2015 bond-buying scheme that helped eurozone stay afloat - otherwise the German Bundesbank will not be allowed to take part.

No breakthrough at EU budget summit

EU leaders failed to reach agreement on the EU's long-term budget, as richer states and poorer 'cohesion countries' locked horns. The impasse continues over how to fund the Brexit gap.

News in Brief

  1. Trump threatens to use army to crush unrest in US
  2. Trump wants Russia back in G7-type group
  3. Iran: Fears of second wave as corona numbers rise again
  4. WHO: Overuse of antibiotics to strengthen bacterial resistance
  5. Orban calls EU Commission recovery plan 'absurd'
  6. ABBA's Björn new president of authors' rights federation
  7. Malta and Libya to create anti-migrant 'units'
  8. France reopening bars and parks next week

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAHow reducing sugar and calories in soft drinks makes the healthier choice the easy choice
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersGreen energy to power Nordic start after Covid-19
  3. European Sustainable Energy WeekThis year’s EU Sustainable Energy Week (EUSEW) will be held digitally!
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic states are fighting to protect gender equality during corona crisis
  5. UNESDACircularity works, let’s all give it a chance
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers call for post-corona synergies between economic recovery and green transition

Latest News

  1. Malta fiddles on migrants, as Libya burns
  2. Borrell: EU doesn't need to choose between US and China
  3. Post-Brexit and summer travel talks This WEEK
  4. State-level espionage on EU tagged as 'Very High Threat'
  5. Beethoven vs Virus: How his birthplace Bonn is coping
  6. EU's new migration pact must protect people on the move
  7. Spain takes 'giant step' on guaranteed minimum income
  8. Vestager hits back at Lufthansa bailout criticism

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us