European Commission enews
Economic Finance

Brussels Economic
Forum 2013

This is a special ECFIN E-news
issue dedicated to the
Brussels Economic Forum 2013.

The future of EMU

About the Brussels Economic Forum 2013
Ambiance The 14th Brussels Economic Forum, on the topic of 'The future of EMU', addressed three fundamental issues, all necessary to ensure a strong and successful economic and monetary union (EMU). European Commission Vice President Olli Rehn opened the conference by saying that, “When we met here last year, there were serious concerns that the euro could disintegrate. A tail risk, perhaps, but certainly something that was in many people's minds, or at least in the minds of the market forces. One year later, that tail risk has disappeared.” His guest, World Trade Organization Director General Pascal Lamy gave the 3rd Annual Tommaso Padoa-Schioppa Lecture in which Lamy examined what European citizens would be most concerned about in the coming year leading to the European elections. In his key note speech, Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny delineated the four key objectives on which the EU needs urgent progress, ranging from preserving financial stability and completing the banking union, to getting 'our young people back to work or into education'. The three sessions that followed covered international competitiveness and picked up the topics of banking union and fiscal and economic union, allowing for fruitful debates exploring ramifications of the last few years of economic crisis and the way forward towards a more robust EMU.

Full recordings of all presentations for viewing

  « Banking union is not about bailing out bankers, it is about getting a banking system that serves the real economy.»  
Olli Rehn
Olli Rehn

Commission Vice-President responsible for Economic and Monetary Affairs and the Euro
  « Europe must find a new action to orient its citizens forward, a forward looking narrative which unites Europeans in the belief that their future can be better than their past.»  
Olli Rehn
Pascal Lamy

Director-General, WTO
  « Banking union is absolutely crucial. For leaders, it’s a credibility test we cannot afford to fail. Following through on decisions is the very least our citizens expect and demand.»  
Olli Rehn
Enda Kenny

Prime Minister of Ireland
From the sessions
Europe out of intensive care, but still needs medicine Europe out of intensive care, but still needs medicine

Europe, whose fate still seemed at times to be in the balance just a year ago, “is no longer in intensive care,” according to European Commission Vice-President and Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs and the Euro, Olli Rehn. But in his opening address to the 2013 Brussels Economic Forum on June 19, Rehn warned that Europe was only gradually emerging from the crisis, and that “our patient will need surveillance and medication still for some time to come.”

Leading from the front on EU elections Leading from the front on EU elections

Pascal Lamy, the current Director General of the World Trade Organisation followed Vice President Rehn's opening with what concerns him the most at this venture in Europe's history: European integration. Starting his speech in honoring Padoa-Schioppa as an unpretentious and determined man, "who always thought, like Jean Monet, that it was not enough to have ideas, but that you also have to propagate them, plant them in fertile soil". His guiding light and much needed intellectual input is being missed in particular when Europe started suffering its worst crisis of the last 50 years. Yet “further European integration is it still the way forward” Lamy underlines. But, the existential question that all Europeans will confront at the next European elections in 2014 and that political groups must answer is what is the future of the integration project?

New ideas to boost Europe’s economy New ideas to boost Europe’s economy

The euro crisis may be abating, but with European Union still mired in recession, how can its economies recover and compete? At the 2013 Brussels Economic Forum’s panel on securing the European competitiveness in a global perspective, a variety of ideas were offered to boost competitiveness, from cutting red tape to taxing better. Further capitalising on the Single Market, in particular as regards services and network industries, openness and innovation, with investment in R&D and in education and skill formation, were identified as major building blocks of a high-productivity strategy for European competitiveness.

New ideas to boost Europe’s economy Banking Union must be finalised

Speaking at the 2013 Brussels Economic Forum via a video message, Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny called for the completion of what governments had promised since last June, completing the EU's banking union. “The important steps taken by the ECB under President (Mario) Draghi and the commitments made at the European Council last June mean a period of relative calm continues. We are very clear on the need to break the link between banking and sovereign debt. Achieving such clarity was critical to our managing the economic crisis. Now we must deliver, in real practical terms. Banking union is absolutely crucial. For leaders, it’s a credibility test we cannot afford to fail. Following through on decisions is the very least our citizens expect and demand,” Kenny said.

How to forge a real banking union How to forge a real banking union

An effective banking union is essential for the European Union if future euro crises are to be avoided, panellists at the 2013 Brussels Economic Forum agreed. But what will the components of this banking union be, and how will it address banking sector risks? The EU started work to establish a banking union last year in an attempt to break the ‘vicious circle' between banks and state finances and to avoid the burden of supporting banks falling on taxpayers.

How to forge a real banking union Looking closer at a fiscal union

The Brussels Economic Forum came to a close by a multi-faceted debate on the path leading to fiscal union, but also what is crucial for enhanced economic union, launched by MEP Sharon Bowles' statements and well-rounded views. The Member of the European Parliament and Chair of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs talked about looking realistically at the monetary union, “The starting point ... is that the monetary union was incomplete, and we have or are in the process of achieving better discipline now over budgets, this is harder to do when times are difficult, but then again may not have been done if these were not difficult times,” Bowles said.

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Directorate-General for Economic and Financial Affairs