Blueprint for a deep and genuine Economic and Monetary Union
The Blueprint for a deep and genuine Economic and Monetary Union (EMU), published in November 2012, sets out the Commission's vision for future euro area integration. It contains specific proposals and a clear timetable for building the banking, fiscal, economic and political architecture needed to reinforce confidence in the single currency and better prevent future crises.
On this page:
- The Blueprint in brief
- Progress on the banking union
- A deeper fiscal and economic union
- The social dimension of the EMU
- A genuine political union
- Next steps
- Press material
The Blueprint in brief
The EU has embarked on ambitious reforms to overcome the crisis, but further work is needed to complete the design of the Economic and Monetary Union.
The Blueprint suggests this be done through gradual reforms, some possible in the short term and under the current Treaty, some requiring more time and Treaty change.
The Commission's vision combines the need for more budgetary and economic responsibility with more financial solidarity. One of the guiding principles in the Blueprint is that more power at the EU level should be matched by more democratic accountability of the EU to its citizens.
- In the short term (within 6 to 18 months), the priority is to complete the Banking Union. The Blueprint also suggests how to better coordinate major economic reforms and create a "convergence and competitiveness instrument" (CCI) within the EU budget to support reforms in stressed economies. This could all be done within the current Treaty.
- In the medium term (18 months to 5 years), the Blueprint suggests building on the CCI to create a fiscal capacity for the euro area, and floats the possibility of eurobills and a debt redemption fund. These ideas require some Treaty change and would be matched by stricter budgetary and economic surveillance, and more coordination on tax and labour policies.
- In the longer term (beyond 5 years), the Blueprint says it should be possible to establish an autonomous euro area budget and allow for common issuance of public debt. This would be the final stage of a deep and genuine EMU, and would mean a substantial pooling of budgetary, economic and political sovereignty, and Treaty change.
Progress on the banking union
Since the Blueprint was published, the EU has made swift progress on creating a Banking Union for the euro area, but open to the entire EU. The Banking Union implements the rules common to all 28 Member States in a centralised way for the 18 countries sharing the single currency. This is necessary to overcome the fragmentation of financial markets along national lines that has marked the crisis in the euro area.
The Single Supervisory Mechanism (SSM) for banks, the first leg of the Banking Union, entered into force in November 2013. The SSM confers supervisory tasks on the European Central Bank, which is carrying out a comprehensive assessment of all banks that will be under its direct supervision when it becomes fully operational in 2014.
The Council and Parliament reached a political agreement on the Single Resolution Mechanism, including a single resolution fund, in March 2014. This completes the Banking Union, and allows the Council and Parliament to give a final sign-off to the deal before the European elections in May 2014, as promised.
In June 2014, euro area Member States reached a political understanding on a direct recapitalisation instrument for banks, within the European Stability Mechanism. The instrument is expected to be added to the toolkit of the ESM by November 2014, when the Single Supervisory Mechanism starts its work.
A deeper fiscal and economic union
Important rules that improve budgetary and economic coordination in the euro area - including a common budgetary timeline - were adopted in February 2013 (known as the "Two Pack" reforms). The Blueprint sets out how to build on these rules.
Since the Two Pack, the Commission has set out options on how to improve coordination between Member States planning large-scale economic reforms (known as 'ex-ante coordination'). A pilot exercise is currently taking place at technical level.
The idea for a Convergence and Competitiveness Instrument (CCI), first mentioned in the Blueprint, was fleshed out in a communication in March 2013. It could be based on contractual arrangements between Member States and the EU, containing specific reform plans, along with financial support to help implement the reforms.
As promised in the Blueprint, the Commission has also clarified how productive investments - particularly major infrastructure projects jointly funded by the EU - are treated under EU debt and deficit rules. This is known as the 'investment clause '.
Following commitments made to the European Parliament, the Commission's expert group on a debt redemption fund and eurobills issued its final report in March 2014. The group was set up to look into the merits, risks, legal requirements and financial consequences of joint debt issuance, as promised in the Blueprint.
The social dimension of the EMU
In October 2013 the Commission proposed to strengthen the social dimension of the euro area and the EU by creating a new annual scoreboard of key employment and social data, and providing for a stronger role for European and national social partners in economic policy-making. The first scoreboard was published at the start of the 2014 European Semester, the EU's calendar for economic policy coordination, and has been endorsed by the Employment and Social Affairs Council .
A genuine political union
As set out in the Blueprint, the Commission believes that the EU should be democratically accountable to its citizens for decisions made at EU level.
In March 2013 the Commission suggested that political parties nominate a candidate for European Commission president in the next European elections in May 2014.
In his State of the Union speeches in 2012 and 2013, President Barroso said he would put forward ideas on Treaty change and on how to consolidate and deepen the community method before the European elections.
The European Council agreed in December 2013 on the main features of a system of "partnerships for growth, jobs and competitiveness" based on mutually agreed contractual arrangements and associated solidarity mechanisms. It invited the President of the European Council, in close cooperation with the President of the European Commission, to carry work forward and to report to the October 2014 European Council with a view to reaching an overall agreement on both of these elements.