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Policy Contribution

Europe’s fourfold union: Updating the 2012 vision

The depiction of the euro area/European Union (EU) as a ‘fourfold union’ emerged in the first half of 2012 at the height of the euro-area crisis. In the past half-decade, Europe’s financial union has been significantly strengthened but remains incomplete and is challenged by Brexit. No consensus has been found on fiscal union and economic union has not made material progress, but political union might have advanced further than many observers realize.

By: Date: September 21, 2017 Topic: Dutch Senate

A version of this material was originally published as a written statement prepared for the Expert Meeting on Deepening the Economic & Monetary Union, Dutch Tweede Kamer, Finance Committee, The Hague, 13 September 2017.

The depiction of the euro area/European Union (EU) as a ‘fourfold union’ (financial union, fiscal union, economic union, political union) emerged in the first half of 2012 at the height of the euro-area crisis. It was primarily shaped by the recognition of the bank-sovereign vicious circle and the need to break it to ensure the survival of Economic and Monetary Union (EMU).

This framing of EMU and EU integration is inevitably simplistic but its four-part categorisation remains relevant and useful when assessing current and future challenges to European integration.

In the past half-decade, Europe’s financial union has been significantly strengthened but remains incomplete and is challenged by the expected exit of the United Kingdom (Brexit). No consensus has been found on fiscal union, and the existing fiscal framework based on administrative control is problematic. Economic union has not made material progress. Political union, a more intangible notion, might have advanced further than many observers realise, even as national politics remain paramount for the vast majority of EU citizens.

A near-term agenda to strengthen EMU, for which decisions could be made in the course of 2018 and without any treaty change, should rest on a balance of further risk-sharing and enhanced market discipline, building on the significant risk reduction achieved over the last half-decade. At the heart of this next step of integration would be regulatory curbs on banks’ sovereign exposures in the euro area and a European deposit insurance scheme. Complementary initiatives should include, on the fiscal side, a reform of the accounting and auditing framework that applies to euro-area member states, and on the (structural) economic side, a new architecture of sector-specific EU authorities to enforce the single market in regulated industries.

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Parliamentary Testimony

European Parliament

New life for an old framework: redesigning the European Union's expenditure and golden fiscal rules

Testimony before the European Parliament on the subject of EU fiscal policies.

By: Zsolt Darvas Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance, European Parliament, Testimonies Date: November 17, 2020
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External Publication

European Parliament

New life for an old framework: redesigning the European Union's expenditure and golden fiscal rules

This briefing paper focuses on two aspects of the EU fiscal framework: whether an expenditure rule would be more reliable than a structural budget balance rule and the possible benefits and drawbacks of introducing a golden rule to exclude certain types of investment from the operational fiscal rule.

By: Zsolt Darvas and Julia Anderson Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance, European Parliament, Testimonies Date: October 14, 2020
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Podcast

Podcast

The future of EU-UK relations (again!)

At the eleventh hour of negotiations, what will the future of the EU-UK relationship look like?

By: The Sound of Economics Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: October 13, 2020
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Past Event

Past Event

The Sound of Economics Live: The future of EU-UK relations (again!)


At the eleventh hour of negotiations, what will the future of the EU-UK relationship look like?

Speakers: Maria Demertzis, Giuseppe Porcaro, André Sapir and Guntram B. Wolff Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Location: Bruegel, Rue de la Charité 33, 1210 Brussels Date: October 13, 2020
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Opinion

Europe’s recovery gamble

Next Generation EU, was rightly hailed as a major breakthrough: never before had the EU borrowed to finance expenditures, let alone transfers to member states. But the programme and its Recovery and Resilience Facility amount to a high-risk gamble.

By: Jean Pisani-Ferry Topic: Finance & Financial Regulation Date: September 25, 2020
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Past Event

Past Event

The Sound of Economics Live: The State of the Union going forward

In the first Sound of Economics Live episode after summer we look at the State of the Union address delivered by Ursula von der Leyen.

Speakers: Giuseppe Porcaro, André Sapir, Guntram B. Wolff and Alicia García-Herrero Topic: Energy & Climate, European Macroeconomics & Governance, Innovation & Competition Policy Location: Bruegel, Rue de la Charité 33, 1210 Brussels Date: September 16, 2020
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Opinion

Without good governance, the EU borrowing mechanism to boost the recovery could fail

The European Union recovery fund could greatly increase the stability of the bloc and its monetary union. But the fund needs clearer objectives, sustainable growth criteria and close monitoring so that spending achieves its goals and is free of corruption. In finalising the fund, the EU should take the time to design a strong governance mechanism.

By: Guntram B. Wolff Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: September 15, 2020
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Opinion

The EU’s Opportunity to Turn Its Markets Toward the Future

Meeting the fiscal demands of COVID-19 will require the European Union to borrow on capital markets more than ever, and for European pension funds and households to look more widely for ways to build their nest eggs safely. The EU should take the challenges of the pandemic and Brexit as a chance to get its financial infrastructure house in order.

By: Rebecca Christie Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance, Finance & Financial Regulation Date: July 16, 2020
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Podcast

Podcast

One rule to ring them all? Europe's financial markets after Brexit

What effect will brexit have on Europe's financial markets?

By: The Sound of Economics and Bruegel Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance, Global Economics & Governance Date: June 26, 2020
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Opinion

A tale of two pandemics

The two narratives briefly examined here cast light on different aspects of the EU in the times of Covid-19. Euroskeptic nationalists typically propagate claims of EU failure but have been rather subdued during the pandemic as mainstream governments have taken over their trademark policy of closing borders to foreigners. Nonetheless, the grip on power of several pro-EU mainstream leaders, including President Emmanuel Macron in France, Prime Minister Conte in Italy and Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez in Spain, remains tenuous.

By: Michael Leigh Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: June 23, 2020
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Past Event

Past Event

The role of the IMF in the post-COVID-19 fiscal stabilization and recovery

Fireside chat with Kristalina Georgieva, Managing Director, International Monetary Fund

Speakers: Henri de Castries, Kristalina Georgieva, Vazil Hudák, Robert Vass and Guntram B. Wolff Topic: Global Economics & Governance Location: Bruegel, Rue de la Charité 33, 1210 Brussels Date: June 15, 2020
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Podcast

Podcast

Will COVID-19 boost the euro as a global currency?

The euro is, by definition an international currency. However, since being established in the late 90s the single currency has always been somewhat less than the sum of it's parts and has yet to challenge the US dollar for global dominance. Its international status declined with the euro crisis of 2008. 

By: The Sound of Economics and Bruegel Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance, Global Economics & Governance Date: June 8, 2020
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