6th Dec 2019


New EU financial instruments needed

  • Irene Tinagli (S&D, Italy) is the president of the ECON committee (Photo: the_amanda)

The European Parliament's committee for economic and monetary affairs (ECON) has been at the heart of the biggest crisis the European Union has seen since its foundation.

The financial and economic crisis of 2008/2009 has shaken the EU to its foundations.

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Not only were banks collapsing and people lost their savings, the euro was under severe pressure too.

For the first time since its introduction, in 2002 in 12 EU countries, people started to believe that the debt crisis could make the eurozone break up, with Greece as the first country to give up the single currency.

When Greece was saved, investors started to speculate on the budgetary collapse of Italy and Spain, two of the largest European countries.

Mario Draghi, president of the European Central Bank (ECB) stepped in and gave the only message that would stop the speculation: "Within our mandate, the ECB is ready to do whatever it takes to preserve the euro. And believe me, it will be enough."

However, the ECB was not the only institution that took action.

The European Commission, together with ECON, worked on new instruments to control and regulate banks and financial products.

And that is no doubt what they will do in the five years to come.

Unfortunately, the president of the ECON committee didn't answer EUobserver's questions, but luckily, Mario Draghi gave a farewell speech in which he talked about the challenges in economic and monetary affairs.

Draghi argued that after years of crises or weak growth, the ECB has exhausted its conventional policy arsenal to stimulate growth and that new institutional instruments are needed.

"It is plain to see that now is the time for more Europe, not less," Draghi said, adding that a common budget for the EU was necessary so there would be a centralised capacity to stabilise the monetary union.

"Today, we are in a situation where low interest rates are not delivering the same degree of stimulus as in the past, because the rate of return on investment in the economy has fallen," Draghi continued.

"Monetary policy can still achieve its objective, but it can do so faster and with fewer side effects if fiscal policies are aligned with it," he added.

Just as armies are perfectly trained to win the last war, instead of the next, the EU's instruments are not ready to deal with the next financial and economic crisis.

Therefore it will be an enormous challenge for the ECON committee to think ahead, together with the European Commission and the national governments to make sure the EU economy and the euro will survive a future crisis.

The chairwoman is Irene Tinagli (S&D, Italy). The coordinators are: Markus Ferber (EPP, Germany), Jonas Fernandez (S&D, Spain), Luis Garicano (Renew, Spain), Gunnar Beck (ID, Germany), Sven Giegold (Greens/EFA, Germany), Derk-Jan Eppink (ECR, the Netherlands), José Gusmao (GUE/NGL, Portugal).

This article first appeared in EUobserver's latest magazine, Who's Who in European Parliament Committees, which you can now read in full online.
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