EU policies – Delivering for citizens: Economic policy

28-06-2019

In the European Union (EU), although economic policy falls within the remit of each Member State, there is, nevertheless, multilateral coordination of economic policies between individual countries. The global financial crisis and the European sovereign debt crisis put this framework severely to the test. Partly as a result, recovery in the EU was slower than recovery in the United States, and was not achieved equally by all Member States. Furthermore, it has to a large extent been based on accommodative fiscal and monetary policies that only partly hide underlying signs of fiscal or financial fragility in some countries. To remedy this, the European institutions began a twofold process in 2011: initiatives were taken to strengthen the current framework for economic governance and banking supervision in the euro area while, in parallel, discussions began on possible ways to reduce the economic divergences between Member States, provide incentives for risk reduction and risk-sharing, render the governance process more transparent and ensure democratic accountability. In this latter area, several initiatives – that did not require changes to the EU Treaties – were taken between 2015 and 2017. In summer 2017, discussions on deepening the policy framework for economic and monetary union (EMU) intensified. This process, which was advocated in the Five Presidents' Report (the presidents of the main EU institutions) and should be completed by 2025, is now being considered at Member State level. The current state of play points towards two main policy preferences, dividing Member States into two groups: those that prioritise risk-sharing measures (such as France), and those that argue instead for further risk-reduction initiatives (for example, Germany). This lack of consensus has so far meant that the European Council has not been able to reach a breakthrough. This is an update of an earlier briefing issued in advance of the 2019 European elections.

In the European Union (EU), although economic policy falls within the remit of each Member State, there is, nevertheless, multilateral coordination of economic policies between individual countries. The global financial crisis and the European sovereign debt crisis put this framework severely to the test. Partly as a result, recovery in the EU was slower than recovery in the United States, and was not achieved equally by all Member States. Furthermore, it has to a large extent been based on accommodative fiscal and monetary policies that only partly hide underlying signs of fiscal or financial fragility in some countries. To remedy this, the European institutions began a twofold process in 2011: initiatives were taken to strengthen the current framework for economic governance and banking supervision in the euro area while, in parallel, discussions began on possible ways to reduce the economic divergences between Member States, provide incentives for risk reduction and risk-sharing, render the governance process more transparent and ensure democratic accountability. In this latter area, several initiatives – that did not require changes to the EU Treaties – were taken between 2015 and 2017. In summer 2017, discussions on deepening the policy framework for economic and monetary union (EMU) intensified. This process, which was advocated in the Five Presidents' Report (the presidents of the main EU institutions) and should be completed by 2025, is now being considered at Member State level. The current state of play points towards two main policy preferences, dividing Member States into two groups: those that prioritise risk-sharing measures (such as France), and those that argue instead for further risk-reduction initiatives (for example, Germany). This lack of consensus has so far meant that the European Council has not been able to reach a breakthrough. This is an update of an earlier briefing issued in advance of the 2019 European elections.