Saturday

25th May 2019

Opinion

Deepening Eurozone integration

  • "We need more time to prove that the existing rules perform sufficiently well. Let’s focus on stability first" (Photo: consilium.europa.eu)

The Treaties of the European Union set out a clear set of goals – inclusive and sustainable growth, price stability, sound fiscal positions and high level of employment.

And the framework of the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) foresees a set of common rules to coordinate these policies closely.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

But the crisis has shown that when the weaknesses of the framework are exposed or when the rules are not sufficiently implemented, the integrity of the euro area is at stake and the objectives stipulated by the Treaties cannot be attained.

Our main challenge is therefore to ensure that the EMU framework is fully compatible with the requirements of sharing a common currency and increasing its resilience to future shocks.

The Four Presidents’ Report

The Euro Summit of 24 October 2014 invited the President of the European Commission, in close cooperation with the President of the Euro Summit, the President of the Eurogroup and the President of the European Central Bank "to prepare next steps on better economic governance in the euro area".

The Four Presidents’ Report is to be discussed at the European Council in June 2015.

Given the high political sensitivity, the main guidelines for the discussion are provided by the prime ministers’ sherpas who meet on regular basis.

All EU member states participate which provides for full transparency and the possibility for all parties to be involved. This is very important for my country which is not a member of the Eurozone but has a pro-euro government that has managed to change long-standing Czech euroscepticism.

The Czech contribution

The Czech Republic has a vital economic and political interest in the smooth functioning of the EMU not only due to our commitment to adopt the common currency but also given our close ties and significant trade relations with the euro area countries.

A healthy and stable EMU is also a precondition for our economic success. Therefore, it is in our strategic interest to participate in any discussion about further deepening of the EMU.

It is evident that high unemployment, lower growth prospects and different levels of competitiveness across the EMU are the most pressing problems we face today.

We all know that they have no quick solution.

Three pillar strategy

We fully support the Commission’s strategy based on three pillars to (i) continue with the implementation of structural reforms; (ii) intensify investment across the EU; (iii) not forget fiscal consolidation.

These simply-sounding priorities are however guided by a wide variety of rules.

Some are quite new, such as the Banking Union, monitoring of macroeconomic imbalances or the reformed Stability and Growth Pact.

Through these new rules, we have hopefully set up a robust system of rules which should turn the EMU into a well-functioning mechanism.

It is important to stick to these rules and ensure their proper enforcement instead of proposing further changes.

Stability first

In this context, the focus on prevention is extremely important. We need more time to prove that the existing rules perform sufficiently well. Let’s focus on stability first.

The Four Presidents' Report should deal primarily with short-term measures that could support the current system of economic governance and make it even more effective.

Our main focus should be the functioning of the European Semester which constitutes the basic platform to share our experience of structural reforms but also make commitments to push the reforms forward and effectively evaluate their impact.

Some new elements, such as the timing of Country Reports and more open discussion between the member states and the Commission, have already been introduced this year.

We welcome these changes as it provides the possibility to discuss the issues properly not only with the Commission but also with national parliaments and social partners.

More openness and intensive involvement of member states may help to better take into account national specificities and enforce the overall ownership of the framework.

Within the current framework

The Report should primarily elaborate on ways to make mutual coordination of policies more effective within the current framework.

The Commission should focus on policies with major economic effects and implications for growth and unemployment, especially across borders. This is where we can reach a real added value for the economic governance and in the end for the EU as a whole – and do it quickly, so that our citizens see the benefits of the EU.

Deeper institutional changes, including setting up a prospective fiscal capacity or new institutions, should be considered only after the current modified governance framework achieves a proper credibility or proves its inefficiency.

Any changes must take into account the potential social impact.

Work on the social dimension must remain an integral part of the process and we need to make sure we place social and economic issues on the same footing.

Given the current political unrest in many parts of the European Union, we must avoid divisive proposals and focus on issues where we can deliver quickly to show that the European Union remains the most effective arrangement Europe may have.

Tomáš Prouza is State Secretary for European Affairs of the Czech Republic

Disclaimer

The views expressed in this opinion piece are the author's, not those of EUobserver.

The rise of the untransparent 'Eurogroup'

The Eurogroup has emerged as a key body in the EU's evolving economic governance, playing a major role in the current dispute with Greece over further bailout money, yet it is democratically accountable to no one.

Spanish and Italians more positive about EU

Spaniards and Italians feel much more positively about the EU than they did a year ago, new research shows, but Germans' fondness for it has taken a dip.

Tribalisation, or the end of globalisation

Important traumatic events have plunged people all over the globe into an identity crisis. Their response is tribalisation: going back to the tribe they know best.

EU sanctions regime cannot be an 'EU Magnitsky Act'

The debate about the choice of name should not boil down to a political muscle show against Hungary, which opposes the reference to Magnitsky because of its political relations with the Russian government.

News in Brief

  1. UK's May announces June 7 resignation date
  2. Ireland votes for EU election and divorce referendum
  3. Report: May to announce resignation plan on Friday
  4. Leading politicians: time for EU to have female leaders
  5. Poll: Finland's Green party to surge in EU elections
  6. High demand for postal voting in Denmark
  7. Some EU citizens turned away at UK polling stations
  8. Switzerland unlikely to sign draft EU deal

Press freedom and the EU elections

We are campaigning for the next European Commission to appoint a commissioner with a clear mandate to take on the challenge of the protection of freedom, independence and diversity of journalism.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  3. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  4. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  5. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  6. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  11. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  12. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year

Latest News

  1. Irish greens take Dublin in second EU exit poll
  2. EU election results to trigger top jobs scramble This WEEK
  3. Don't tell the Dutch - but Timmermans 'won'
  4. EU says goodbye to May with 'respect'
  5. Strache scandal: how big a hit will Austrian far-right take?
  6. Italy train row exposes competing views of EU
  7. Dutch socialists on top in first EP election exit poll
  8. No usage data kept for EU parliament's 'Citizens' App'

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan
  3. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  5. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID
  8. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership
  9. Intercultural Dialogue PlatformRoundtable: Muslim Heresy and the Politics of Human Rights, Dr. Matthew J. Nelson
  10. Platform for Peace and JusticeTurkey suffering from the lack of the rule of law
  11. UNESDASoft Drinks Europe welcomes Tim Brett as its new president
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers take the lead in combatting climate change

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us