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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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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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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 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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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 Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance, Global Economics & Governance Date: June 8, 2020
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Opinion

How will COVID-19 impact Brexit? The collision of two giant policy imperatives

The United Kingdom left the European Union on Jan. 31, 2020. Now, the U.K. must decide whether and how to extend the transition period, currently set to expire at the end of 2020.

By: Rebecca Christie Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: May 19, 2020
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Policy Brief

Rebooting Europe: a framework for a post COVID-19 economic recovery

COVID-19 has triggered a severe recession and policymakers in European Union countries are providing generous, largely indiscriminate, support to companies. As the recession gets deeper, a more comprehensive strategy is needed. This should be based on four principles: viability of supported entities, fairness, achieving societal goals, and giving society a share in future profits. The effort should be structured around equity and recovery funds with borrowing at EU level.

By: Julia Anderson, Simone Tagliapietra and Guntram B. Wolff Topic: Energy & Climate, European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: May 13, 2020
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Policy Contribution

The European Union’s post-Brexit reckoning with financial markets

In the negotiations between the European Union and the United Kingdom over their future relationship, we see a high probability of a weak contractual outcome, given the dominance of politics over considerations of market efficiency.

By: Rebecca Christie and Thomas Wieser Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: May 13, 2020
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Opinion

The message in the ruling

The German Constitutional Court's ruling on the ECB's asset purchase programme is open to much criticism but it can hardly be blamed for raising an important question.

By: Jean Pisani-Ferry Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: May 12, 2020
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Post-Council commentary

On April 23, EU leaders met virtually to try to come to an agreement for a common European response to the COVID-19 pandemic. What were the measures taken? Will they be sufficient? Did Europe come together for a coordinated response to the crisis? Or did the meeting further highlight the cracks between member states? This week, Guntram Wolff and Giuseppe Porcaro are joined by Maria Demertzis and André Sapir to comment on the EU Council meeting.

By: The Sound of Economics Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: April 24, 2020
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Opinion

The perils of more debt

Europe must find the “Ways and Means”.

By: Maria Demertzis and Nicola Viegi Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: April 10, 2020
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Blog Post

COVID-19: The self-employed are hardest hit and least supported

Self-employed workers are hardest-hit by COVID-19 lockdowns. Yet they often receive less government support than salaried employees. Is the disparity justified?

By: Julia Anderson Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: April 8, 2020
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