(European Commission: First published on 31 May 2017)
The publication of the Commission’s “Reflection paper on the deepening of the economic and monetary union” is very disappointing both by its lack of originality and ambition!
With regard to originality, the first half of the text is limited to a history of EMU (recalling the significant improvements implemented since the financial crisis) and, as far as the second half is concerned, to updating prior documents, in particular of the “Five Presidents Report” (detailing the road map to be completed). The document doesn’t contain a single new noteworthy proposal or explore avenues to overcome the blockages that currently hinder the implementation of measures that are needed to ensure the long term survival of EMU and of the EU itself.
As to the lack of ambition, the Commission seems to ignore completely the profound changes in public opinion that are “en marche” since the Brexit referendum and the election of Donald Trump. This pussyfooting squanders a unique opportunity to come up with bold proposals that would have been dismissed as utopic or premature only a few months ago, when Europe was living in fear of a national-populist tidal wave!
Now is the time to capitalize on the mood created by the shocks that are traumatizing citizens, which, in the absence of credible alternatives, feed their anger and increase the risks of social unrest. The public seems to have come to terms with these geopolitical upheavals and to accept that it is only at the level of the EU that the questions of defense, immigration, border controls etc., can be handled and globally when it comes to terrorism or climate change!
It is this metamorphosis that has underpinned the “Macron” phenomena and allowed him, against the odds, to overturn French public opinion, which as recently as the first round of the presidential elections, backed to the tune of 75% Sovereigntist, Eurosceptic, if not downright Europhobic postures, into an alternative 2/3rds majority by the second round, won on a fully assumed pro-European platform.
The Commission has made clear that it wishes to initiate a broad debate on the deepening of EMU. The ideas developed hereunder will aim first at defining a global view of the objectives and the reforms they imply (referring mainly to the proposals contained in chapter 4.5 of the
Commission Document) and second, at considering a series of specific measures (Ch. 4.3 & 4.4). This inversion in the presentation seems more appropriate because the relevance of specific measures should be coherent with the defined objectives.
2. The objectives of EMU.
A preliminary clarification is necessary: one can consider that either:
– EMU is not an end in itself but is an indispensable TOOL to implement the Union’s political, economic and social aims.
– EMU is self-standing INSTITUTION whose governance must be articulated within the EU broader framework.
It is the indiscriminate use of the two concepts within the Commission paper that makes its proposals sometimes incoherent if not contradictory. In the remarks that follow, it is unambiguously the second interpretation that is used.
Within this framework, it is necessary to dispel a perception, deeply anchored in the collective imagination that EMU is first and foremost an entity, subordinated to the EU, in which it would represent the main example of a standard “reinforced cooperation” and replace this conception with idea that EMU is, instead, the institutional archetypal model to which, in due course, all EU Members should belong.
Though far from perfect, EMU constitutes the institution in which integration among its Members has been pushed the furthest. It holds together mainly through the single currency which binds 340 million citizens representing 85% of the EU’s GNP. Completing EMU must become the priority of its Members because it is the necessary condition of the currency’s (and ultimately of the EU’s) survival. The Commission insists on the fact that “the status quo is not an option”.
EMU, as an institution, must be endowed with the tools necessary to fulfill its mandate; that means: a budget, own resources and a borrowing capacity that are autonomous. EMU’s governance should be articulated around “independent powers” whose democratic legitimacy must meet the Copenhagen criteria. Sharing sovereignty among Members, which is currently limited to the monetary area, should be extended to the economic and judiciary fields, in full compliance with the principals of subsidiarity. Such a development would considerably improve the efficiency of the single market.
This radical change in the approach aims at initiating a virtuous circle: in a globalized world, EMU must demonstrate its added value, particularly its ability to protect the interests of its citizens so as to become an irresistible magnet for the remaining non-Members, in conformity with their treat obligations.
The ultimate aim becomes the absorption of the EU’s institutions by those of EMU and not the reverse.
3. The institutional structure of EMU.
Currently there are three operational arms specifically dedicated to EMU: The European Centre Bank (ECB), the Eurogroupe and the European Stabilization Mechanism (ESM). In addition the Commission and the European Council are involved in a number of key matters concerning the governance of EMU; The European Parliament (EP) is also regularly kept informed by the ECB of its activities.
A. Clarification of the missions and responsibilities as well as of the composition of EMU institutions.
These bodies are emanations either of the EU or EMU, a duality which creates an endless source of blockages hindering further Eurozone integration. Thus when meeting in its EU 28 format (Council, Commission, EP) decisions concerning EMU must take into account the interests of non-Members while, in its EMU 19 format (ECB, Eurogroupe, EMS), the focus of attention is inwards. Institutions that straddle both groups are therefore constantly exposed to conflicts of interests which lead more often than not to ineffective compromises.
As example, le involvement of the United Kingdom in decisions affecting EMU, has notoriously inhibited Eurozone reform since the financial crisis. The broadly recognized expertise of the City and its importance as a dominant European and world financial center have proven to be powerful levers allowing the UK to use single market regulations (EU28) to thwart the ECB’s request to repatriate within the Eurozone (19) certain activities over which it is meant to exercise supervisory responsibility (in particular clearing of € denominates transactions). Thus the matter has remained unresolved as a result of the obvious conflict between the freedom of capital movements within the EU to which the UK belongs, and the ECB’s responsibility for the stability and supervision the Eurozone’s financial markets. Brexit should, at last, allow to align the interest of Member states in this particularly sensitive area.
It is a similar state of confusion that presided over the ill-conceived project creating a “Capital Market’s Union” (CMU) at EU (28) level, in order to placate the British and the City in the full knowledge that its aims could only be achieved within a “Unified Capital Market”, anchored on the single currency and centered on the Eurozone (19) (see also further below).
It is therefore of utmost importance that the architecture of EMU be aligned with its missions and responsibilities.
B. Conforming EMU’s institutional architecture to the ambition of ensuring its “democratic legitimacy”.
A frequent criticism of the EU in general, and EMU in particular, it the lack or insufficient democratic legitimacy of its organs. Indeed, a significant part of the EU’s legitimacy is based on the fiction that a “Union” of 28 democratic countries (conforming to the Copenhagen Criteria) constitutes an entity which is democratic (despite not meeting itself the said criteria)!
This ambiguity, deliberately encouraged by Member States, allows them to perpetuate the posture that they remain alone the ultimate depositaries of “national sovereignty”, despite overwhelming evidence that in several key areas, it has been emptied of any real substance in favor of more effective pooled sovereignty. Certain topics require a global approach (climate change or terrorism…) while others are better managed at EU or EMU level (implementing the 4 freedoms, defense, or the single currency…).
The complexity and often the irrationality of situations that confront citizens explains the trend towards isolationism that is exploited without restraint by nationalist parties which never miss an opportunity to promote the politics of fear, be it under the guise of mistrusting fellow citizens (politicians, bankers, trade unionists…) of exploiting differences (religious, linguistic, racial…) when it is not purely and simply encouraging the hate of everything foreign (unfair competition, financial and cultural domination….).
i. The Eurozone Parliament (“EZP”).
The European institution which approaches most closely the “democratic” ideal is without contest the EP. It is elected by universal suffrage on the same day throughout the Union. In addition, the treaties have consistently increased its competencies, sharing with other institutions legislative and budgetary powers and to a limited extent powers on censure, which constitute essential attributes of a democracy.
However, in other respects the EP does not live up to expectations which hurts its reputation and contributes to the lack of interest of electors as the decreasing participation at each new election demonstrates. The idea of creating an EZP, which should become one of its essential organs, deserves further attention.
The option of appointing to this Assembly the MEPs who represent EMU countries makes eminent sense and should be privileged over proposals that suggest that National Parliaments should also send representatives. Indeed, not only would the latter suggestion be considerably more expensive (even if democracy has no price), but in addition, the continual changes in the makeup of national parliaments would make the EZP membership unstable and be highly detrimental to its efficiency. It would also perpetuate the confusion between different levels of power and their respective independence, reinforcing the hold of national governments over their elected representatives and the tendency to privilege national over common interests.
The creation of EZP could provide the opportunity to improve the democratic legitimacy of the EP itself, so as to avoid transposing its weaknesses to the EZP.
This might involve:
a) The unification of the electoral codes throughout the Union so as to ensure that each vote expressed carries the same weight (national practices could subsist for local elections based on the principle of subsidiarity).
b) Recommending a system based on proportional representation but with a minimum hurdle rate (at Union level) to avoid excessive fragmentation. A number of seats would be reserved for attribution to parties having no directly elected members but who exceed the Union-wide hurdle rate.
c) Encouraging the emergence of European transnational political parties presenting lists throughout the Union in constituencies of roughly similar population. The aim is that national political parties should be subordinated to their larger European formation and not, as is the case at present, the reverse. (Purely national/local parties representing special interest could continue to exist in parallel).
ii. The EMU Executive.
A lot of proposals have been written concerning EMU integration, including the idea to entrust its daily management to a “Finance Minister” ; he would be simultaneously Vice-President of the Commission and Chairman of the Eurogroupe and be responsible for executing the EMU budget.
This proposal suffers from several of the weaknesses referred to above: with his three hats, this “Minister” will constantly run the risk of facing conflicts of interest. The lack of clarity concerning the attribution of tasks can lead to conflicts with the Presidents of the Council and of the Commission, diluting their respective responsibilities and harming their efficiency. Such confusion has, in the past, been deliberately orchestrated by the Member States, so that by weakening the authority of the leaders of the EU institutions, they ensure the preponderance of an “intergovernmental Union” over a “supra-national Union”, and create a structural impediment to the EMU integration that they pretend to support.
The parallel, sometimes made with the position of the High Representative for foreign Affairs, is inappropriate because the latter participates in Council/Commission meetings as a representative of the EU28 and not of a subgroup of its Members. Furthermore, the High Representative (who was deliberately denied the title of Foreign Affairs Minister) acts either alone as “Commissioner”, either as Council Member, jointly with – or in support of – other Member States in areas where he will mainly stand in for the interests of those Members who are not represented (Iran).
With the view of remaining coherent and keeping in mind the objectives defined heretofore, an alternative better balanced solution would be to create a true “Eurozone Government”. Its governance could take inspiration from the model that has proved very successful within the ECB; there would be two levels of decision making power:
– A College of the 19 Commissioners representing the EMU Members which would meet periodically.
– An Executive Committee of 6 Commissioners, charged with the daily running of EMU.
Both bodies would be presided by the President of the Commission. As a result, the workload would be distributed more efficiently and would benefit of the expertise and support of the entire Commission services, ensuring the necessary coherence between the EU and EMU. Such a structure is fully justified because, as integration gets deeper, the areas which require to be treated at EMU level will inevitably exceed the mainly economic, financial and budgetary fields for which the “Finance Minister” would be responsible. Collegiality is also meant to ensure that the interests of EMU as a whole prevail over those of a particular Member, duplicating the experience of the ECB where no individual country, however powerful, is capable to impose its views.
iii. The Eurogroupe.
The structure of the Eurogroupe, a sub formation of the Council, composed of the 19 Ministers of Finance of EMU Members (and occasionally of their heads of State and Government), blends itself into the format suggested here above for the EZP and the Executive of the EZP. By extension, this format could be extended to EMU Ministers in charge of other portfolios, in step with the broadening of topics that would be handled by the EZ Executive.
iv. The European Central Bank.
EMU integration should not, in principle, affect the structure or the mandate of the ECB. It would however, have a significant impact on its operations in so far as – at long last – the Eurozone Executive could act as the appropriate interlocutor with which the Bank could coordinate its monetary policy.
Coordinating monetary policy, with economic aims and partially harmonized fiscal policies within the Eurozone, will give more flexibility in adapting EMU to cyclical conditions or to external shocks. This would prove most valuable in periods of crisis allowing, for instance – on the model of the US Federal Government support for the American States in 2008-9 – to stimulate the economy through a programmed deficit of the EMU budget. Such an intervention could be financed either:
– By the purchase of EMU bonds by the ECB (Eurobonds: see p.9 below, discussion of a “riskless asset”). The disbursement of the proceeds in favor of Member States would be subject to their compliance with the budgetary rules to which Members would have freely adhered when joining EMU.
– By the intervention of the European Stabilization Mechanism subject to a Memorandum of Understanding detailing conditionality adapted to the specific problems facing the borrowing Member.
It is also necessary to address the criticisms concerning the ECB’s “independence” whose pertinence is often misunderstood because of the perceived lack of checks and balances over its activities. It is, however, precisely the audacious exercise of its independence, that saved the single currency in the aftermath of the financial crisis; since then, monetary policy has carried the full brunt of steering EMU with a firm hand, while most Member States sidestepped their responsibilities by delaying necessary adjustments and reforms.
In order to establish the democratic legitimacy of the system as a whole, the ECB should become fully accountable to the PEZ and it its Executive Members should be both auditioned and confirmed by the Assembly.
C. Preliminary Conclusion.
The attempt at presenting coherent proposals concerning the governance structure of the EU and EMU is deliberate; its aim is to smooth the unification of institutions whose mandates would have become redundant once all EU Members had joined EMU.
The centralized exercise of Executive power should entice non-Members to join EMU in light of the positive advantages enjoyed by participants. The risks of dismemberment of EMU would disappear as would the correlated risks of “redenomination” associated with the reintroduction of national currencies; in addition, the current trend towards fragmentation (bank balance sheets) which constitute a major impediment to the completion of the Single Market, would be reversed.
Achieving a unanimous agreement among the 19 countries that already share a common currency and are, for practical purposes, engaged in an irreversible process (the cost of dismantlement being prohibitive), should be further facilitated by avoiding the need to secure the agreement of non-Members; as a result it would be possible to speed up its implementation. Those among non-Members who would choose – following the British lead – to leave the Union should avail themselves of Art. 50 of the TUE; the apparent difficulties associated with Brexit, make the odds of embarking on that road, far less likely than the future readmission of the U.K., when EMU will have demonstrated its full potential.
4. Commentary on specific items reviewed in the roadmap.
A. Period 2017 – 2019
i. Completing the Banking Union.
Instituting the Banking Union is one of the EU’s major initiatives and successes in dealing with restructuring the banking sector in the aftermath of the financial crisis. Nevertheless, as the Commission points out, it remains work in progress needing to complete an agreement on two essential topics.
The first concerns the implementation of a European-wide deposit guarantee scheme. Currently this remains a national responsibility, contributing to perpetuate market fragmentation. This underscores the link between a deepening of EMU integration and the acceptance by its Members of a mutualized guarantee scheme.
Bank deposit guarantees (including savings accounts) up to €100.000 per account has an overriding social objective: protecting the savings of the great majority of citizens, in particular the most vulnerable. This raises automatically the question of extending the guarantees to several accounts in the name of the same person.
If, as is the case presently, the €100.000 guarantee applies to each account separately, wealthy individuals can, by spreading the number of deposits between several institutions, not only benefit from a much higher guarantee but also benefit from diversifying their “redenomination” risk, should the € implode, protections that are not available to the vast majority of citizens.
Limiting the guarantee to a single deposit account per person would considerably reduce the overall amount to insure, facilitating the acceptance of a mutualized guarantee scheme by Member States (this limitation could be partially counterbalanced by increasing the amount covered). The depositor could, either have total freedom in selecting the licensed institution where he deposits his money (it would be subject to a notification to a central registry to avoid duplication), either be restricted to the country where he is fiscally domiciled.
Nothing prevents instituting in parallel private insurance schemes covering deposits that do not benefit from the official protection. Depositors would assume the payment of the premiums as well as the credit risk of the insurer; the latter would be subject to the regulation and prudential rules applicable to the sector.
The banking sector will most probably be hostile to such a proposal, pointing out that it could significantly impair its deposit base, thus limiting its capacity to finance the real economy. It is, indeed, likely that large depositors would seek to diversify their risks by investing in financial products that would not be in jeopardy in case of a bank’s troubles. On the other hand, such an outcome would meet precisely one of the Commission’s key objectives: reduce the reliance on the banking sector for the financing of the economy by encouraging the development alternative financial instruments.
The second topic needed to finalize the Banking Union concerns a mutualized budgetary backstop for the “Bank Resolution Fund”. It should, as mentioned by the Commission, be additional to a fund pre-financed by the banking sector itself; it could consist of an EMS credit line benefitting from an EMU budget guarantee.
Breaking the unhealthy link between public finances and the banking sector is an essential aim of completing the Banking Union; it clearly demonstrates that the regulatory treatment of sovereign debts is an important aspect to be considered within this particular framework.
ii. The “Capital Market’s Union” (“CMU”).
This emblematic initiative by the Commission suffers from being elaborated under false premises. Starting from the laudable aim of re-equilibrating the sources of financing of the economy between capital markets and the banking sector (the latter amounts to 80% of the total against 25% in the USA), the choice of a CMU encompassing the EU 28 is counterproductive. Its clumsy justification, aimed (in vain) at scotching the UK to the EU and benefitting from the City’s expertise, took precedence over more fundamental aspects that deserved consideration. It would have been wiser, as was the case for the Banking Union, to base the project on the Eurozone, leaving non-Members the option to join on a voluntary basis.
A market, firmly anchored on the single currency, needs in order to reach a critical size compatible with the ambitious aims of its authors, to eliminate as a priority the “exchange risk”. Indeed, the investor whose investment horizon one is tempting to widen, will remain skeptical as long as the irreversibility of the € is not definitive. It follows that it is illusory to expect to implement CMU by 2019, while the conditions needed for its success are programmed to come into force only by 2025!
The progress that can be envisaged in the short term is limited to a greater regulatory harmonization which, if undeniably useful, does not go much further than the actualization of the “Financial Services Action Plan” initiated at the time the € was launched. Indeed, the current plan leads to a “Union of Capital Markets” while the aim should be a “Unified Capital Market”, benefitting from characteristics of depth, transparency and liquidity capable of competing with its American rival.
A second structural weakness of CMU is to rely first and foremost on the intermediation of the banking sector. The European model of “universal banking” means that the sector is both the principal source of credit and the privileged intermediary in connecting an issuer with an investor in financial products. This dual role creates the potential of a conflict of interests within the institution in choosing which of its products it promotes within its clientele: should the bank act as principal in granting a loan or as intermediary in distributing a bond issue? It should be evident re-equilibrating the financing sources of the economy, if banks are to remain at the heart of the system, will be very hard to achieve.
This raises the question of the separation between commercial and investment banking and its relevance with regard to the supervision and stability of the financial system. The model that will emerge will have profound consequences on profitability because the capital requirements will be necessarily more onerous for institutions that must simultaneously protect depositors and assume the risks associated with capital market intermediation.
The universal banking model has also negative implications with regard to the competitivity on the sector on the global stage. American investment banks are already knocking out their European counterparts in this highly lucrative sector for two reasons: their regulatory capital requirements are lower because these institutions do not accept deposits from the public and, in addition, their overwhelming domination of their domestic market provides them with the possibility to spread their costs and diversify their risks over a much broader base. Fighting this situation by protectionist measures will only raise the cost of financing which is the complete opposite of what CMU is supposed to deliver.
In conclusion, implementing CMU provides a welcome opportunity to rethink in depth the whole question of financing the European economy;
B. Period 2020-2025.
i. A European “riskless” asset.
The idea of creating a European riskless asset with characteristics similar to US Treasury securities is interesting. However, the proposal, which considers issuing securities backed by EU Member’s sovereign bonds, would appear, prima facies, to contain drawbacks that would limit its appeal. Indeed, the complexity of the structure does not create a security that will be simple, fungible and easily understood by the market. The composition of the portfolio backing each new issue would be heterogeneous or else would come up against quantitative limitations due to the supply of collateral, inhibiting the all-important liquidity of the secondary market.
The issuer of a “riskless” asset must meet a series of criteria: it must be easily identifiable, its solvency unquestionable and its capacity to meet its debt servicing obligations recognized. Therefore, focusing the structure of such securities mainly on meeting the needs of the banking sector to diversify holdings for regulatory purposes is likely to limit its attraction for other investors. Liquidity would be impaired to the extent it relied excessively on the appetite of banks for such securities.
At the time of the sovereign debt crisis, the market imposed a risk differentiation between sovereign debt securities of EMU members, which translated in a brutal widening of spreads after a long period of convergence initiated during the years prior to introducing the €. These developments have not been translated into the regulatory framework which is maintaining the fiction of a zero weighting of sovereign bonds (favorable to the financing of States by the banks). The ECB has however adjusted its policy on acceptability of collateral for its bank refinancing operations, to take the sovereign risk into account.
To issue riskless € denominated securities within the EU, two approaches can be considered:
– Either increase the issuance by existing entities which offer the required characteristics: all the issues of the EIB (whose indebtedness has a statutory joint and several guarantee of its shareholders, the EU 28), those of the ESM (guaranteed by EMU Members) or all securities benefitting from an EU budget guarantee meet these requirements. The risk is based ultimately on the solvency of the Member States (in practice that means Germany), but the construct does not enjoy the protection of a lender of last resort because of the prohibition for the ECB to finance directly Member States.
– Either authorize a future “Government of the Eurozone” to issue bonds guaranteed by EMU’s taxation capacity (own resources), the issuer (initially EMU and ultimately the EU) having an unlimited recourse to the BCE as lender of last resort. This architecture would put EMU on an equivalent footing with countries that are able to coordinate their economic and financial policies with their respective central banks. The securities issued would have similar characteristics to those of the US Treasury, creating the potential for a market of equal importance.
It seems therefore somewhat premature to initiate a detailed study of a European riskless asset before a reformed EMU is more clearly defined. If the integration fails to remove the risk of redenomination of € denominated securities, the creation of an sovereign debt backed security would appear to be less than optimal; if, on the other hand such risk disappears, that particular model would be unnecessarily complicated.
The expression “convergence”, as utilized in the Commission document, is rather ambiguous. Even if it takes care in distinguishing between “real”, “nominal” and “cyclical” convergence, the concept is utilized either to suggest the creation of “economic and social structures” or refers to political objectives, sometimes implicit, such as fighting inequalities.
In its second meaning it implies – by construction – the necessity of creating a “transfer Union” as exists within any sovereign political entity. Thus, whether in countries with a federal structure such as the USA, Germany or Belgium, a mixed structure such as the UK or a unitary structure such as France, Italy or the Netherlands, there always exist transfer mechanisms aimed at fostering greater cohesion among their respective population. In none of these case is the objective to eliminate inequalities which would be wholly unrealistic. However, creating mechanisms of social protection or of risk sharing cannot be devised without a corresponding transfer mechanism. If the entity in which these “solidarities” are supposed to work is EMU, then it follows that a transfer mechanism covering the same area must be implemented.
Aiming only, as the Commission document seems to suggest, of creating more robust economic and social structures is certainly a necessary step but insufficient: the European citizen must be convinced that establishing an interpersonal solidarity at Union level is key. It implies creating a transfer capability, however limited, that extends beyond the rigid contractual commitments negotiated within the budgetary and treaty frameworks.
When envisaging re-launching EMU integration, clarity and transparency on its implications are more than ever necessary to ensure its success.
iii. The European Stability Mechanism and the external representation of EMU.
The Commission proposal to unify EMU’s representation within international institutions, mainly financial ones, should be implemented as soon as possible. This will give added weight to both EMU and the €, reducing commensurately the exorbitant privileges of the USA and the $. This step could be envisaged as part of the transformation of the EMS into a “European Monetary Funds” (EMF). One aim would be to forgo any intervention of the IMF in stabilization operations involving EMU Members, reserving the IMF’s intervention capabilities to the possible future needs of EMU itself. The conditionality of EMF loans would be totally within its own hands, avoiding the weakness conveyed by the direct intervention of the IMF in the internal monetary affairs of EMU.
The European citizen would then be in a position to recognize in a more tangible way the power, stability and independence that an integrated EMU bring to its Members on the world stage.
Completing EMU is a subject whose purpose and complexity do not arouse popular enthusiasm. As was demonstrated during the Brexit debate in the UK or the more recent controversy concerning the single currency in France, the arguments bandied about in order to manipulate a poorly informed public opinion, are oversimplified when they are not downright misleading; references to emotional ill-defined notions such as “sovereignty” are used to obfuscate realities which are too technical or abstract to hold the citizen’s attention.
The inward looking mood which was incarnated in the Brexit vote and the election of Donald Trump appears to be reversing: after the relief of the Austrian presidential election result, the relative setback of the Europhobes in the Netherlands, the huge victory of Emmanuel Macron in France confirms a renewed support for the European project. The rout of the 5 Star movement in Italy’s local elections only reinforces the momentum.
There is little doubt that this change of mind is due to the growing fear instilled by terrorism, the threat of uncontrolled immigration or the withdrawal of the American security umbrella. There is, however, no doubt that a realization is taking hold that confronting these challenges, coupled with those of climate change, energy supply, globalization, etc.., is only possible at European level.
In the throw of ambient geopolitical upheavals, it is of paramount importance to capitalize on this favorable turn of events – which could disappear at any moment – to make sure that the integration of EMU figures as one of the top priorities. It is therefore necessary to accelerate the implementation of the necessary measures to ensure the future of a European Union capable of protecting all its citizens and bolster its standing on the international scene.