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«WG VI 09 NOTE du: Secrétariat au: Groupe de travail sur la gouvernance économique Objet: Réunion du 17 juillet 2002: Contributions des membres Les ...»

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LA CONVENTION EUROPÉENNE Bruxelles, le 16 juillet 2002

LE SECRETARIAT

WG VI 09

NOTE

du: Secrétariat

au: Groupe de travail sur la gouvernance économique

Objet: Réunion du 17 juillet 2002: Contributions des membres

Les membres du groupe de travail VI voudront bien trouver ci-joint les contributions des membres

relatives aux points 11 à 13 du mandat du groupe de travail.

________________________

Contribution of Mr. De Bruijn

Point 11:

The Group might consider whether, in the light of the experience of the euro, the current attribution of responsibility within the areas of monetary and economic policy is sufficiently clear. Also for consideration might be whether the lines of accountability are adequate, or might one envisage an increased role for the EP in certain areas (eg the establishment of the Broad Economic Policy Guidelines or in improving ECB reporting to the EP)?

• EMU is characterized by a sound economic policy architecture, with a clear assignment of tasks with regard to monetary and economic policy. The single monetary policy is entrusted to the ECB, whereas the Member States remain responsible for all other economic and structural policies, among which budgetary and labour market policies. In addition, in order to lay a solid foundation for EMU, as well as to prevent negative externalities stemming from national policies, a policy coordination framework has been set up. This well-balanced institutional set-up functions adequately.

• In recent years the institutional framework has proven to be able to deal adequately with a range of economic shocks. Despite the track-record of this still young framework, there have been calls for amendments. The main problem, however, is not a lack of clarity about respective competencies or responsibilities, but rather a lack of compliance of Member States with existing rules and agreements, as is illustrated in the discussion surrounding the compliance with the Stability and Growth Pact.

• The ECB has established a strong reputation in a short period of time. It has managed a smooth changeover to the euro in the beginning of this year. The primary objective of the ECB is and should remain maintaining price stability. When the statutes of the ECB were drawn up, a deliberate choice was made for a combination of a limited mandate and independence. The independence of monetary policy has been a prerequisite for most Member States to start a monetary union. Exactly this independence necessitates a limited mandate. Moreover, by maintaining price stability in a lasting way, monetary policy contributes most to improving economic prospects and raising the living standards of European citizens.

• Adequate legitimacy and accountability in the context of economic governance can be improved. In certain areas (e.g. multilateral surveillance) the EP could be given a larger role. For instance, the EP could be consulted on the BEPG’s before discussion in Council, which could be part of the Treaty (art.

99). There is no need for changes in the ECB reporting to the EP: the ECB-president already appears in the EP four times a year (compared to twice a year in the US), which is another concomitant of its independence. Nevertheless, amending the Treaty might be considered by formally laying down the EP’s right to approve new members of the ECB Executive Board (art. 112).

Point 12:

The Group might wish to address the future status of the Eurogroup, particularly following enlargement. Is there a case for formalizing the group, and if so how might this be done?

• The Eurogroup was founded in 1998 to discuss in an informal manner matters relevant to the Member States participating in the common currency. In its current form, the informal Eurogroup serves as a platform for direct peer pressure and exchange of information amongst Finance ministers in the euro area. It thus serves as a useful addition to the existing Ecofin Council. In addition, the presence of the ECB President at the Eurogroup meetings makes it a forum where a valuable informal exchange of views between monetary and fiscal policy authorities takes place. In a formal Eurogroup the participation of the ECB could conflict with the independence of the ECB.

• Following enlargement and before adoption of the euro by new Member States, the number of Member States which are not part of the euro area will evidently increase and the influence of euro area Member States on decision making concurrently decreases. However, for a number of issues the Treaty already facilitates formal decision making by ministers from euro area Member States through the voting procedure stipulated in Article 122.3-5. Under that procedure, the voting rights of noneuro area Member States are suspended for a number of Council decisions. This is among others relevant for exchange rate policy (art. 111), the appointment of members of the ECB-Board (art. 112.2b) and the sanctions in case of non-compliance under the excessive deficit procedure (art. 104.11). The applicability of this voting procedure can be broadened to other relevant areas as an alternative to formalising the Eurogroup.

• With regard to economic policy coordination, applying this formal decision making procedure for euro area Member States makes sense for decisions on the existence of an excessive deficit and the related recommendation to a Member State (art. 104.6 and 7). It also makes sense for the formulation of a possible euro area section on budgetary policy in the broad economic policy guidelines and the decision whether an EUMember State can adopt the euro (art. 122.2). For other areas of economic policy coordination, there is no reason why euro area Member States should make formal decisions amongst themselves which are different from the ones applicable to all Member States.





• In conclusion, there are no convincing arguments for formalising the Eurogroup. As an informal forum it has proven its added value. In addition, the current provisions in the Treaty provide for the possibility to restrict formal decision making to euro area Member States, which is an option that could be extented.

Point 13:

The Group might consider whether more effective arrangements are required for Euro area representation in international fora. If so, what form might such representation take?

• Although the representation of the Euro-area in international fora is being managed in a pragmatic and satisfactory way, there is room for improvement. The Community should speak with one single voice in matters directly related to EMU in order to enhance the influence of the euro area in these international fora. External representation should be in line with the phase of European integration. This implies that a single representation is appropriate in areas of Community competence (e.g. trade, monetary policy). In other areas (e.g. IMF matters) a closer cooperation between Member States on issues that are of strategic importance to Europe is warranted for a greater effectiveness. This, however, does not have to lead to changes in the representation in these international fora.

Brussels, 16 July 2002 Working Group VI of the European Convention

–  –  –

• The policy assignment in Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) is clear and appropriate. The single monetary policy is entrusted to the independent, supranational European Central Bank (ECB). The responsibility for economic policies (budgetary and structural policies) remains decentralised in the hands of national authorities, though subject to some common rules. In recognition of growing economic interdependence, the Member States are called upon to coordinate their national economic policies. Overall, this policy framework has functioned successfully during the early years of EMU.1 Treaty changes in terms of allocation of competences are neither needed nor warranted.

• The European Parliament (EP) is implicated in the EMU policy framework and policy coordination. The form and intensity of its involvement depend on the policy area and instrument at hand. However, it is obvious that the degree of involvement is less intense than e.g. in the process of setting Community legislation. This reflects the fact that economic policy decisions are ultimately taken at the national level, that economic policy co-ordination is not a legislative matter, and that the ECB is independent in carrying out its tasks. In practice, the EP implication goes beyond Treaty provisions through mainly its initiatives and the regular dialogue with the Commission and other Community institutions.

Ø As regards specifically economic policy co-ordination and the Broad Economic Policy Guidelines (BEPGs) as the central instrument to this end,2 the EP essentially has a right of information at present (Article 99-2). In addition, it has provided input to the BEPGs procedure by means of own-initiative resolutions signalling Parliament’s policy views.

The EP has to be consulted (Article 128-2) before adoption of the Commission proposal for Employment Guidelines by the Council.

Given the growing degree of economic interdependence between Member States, the Commission considers necessary to strengthen economic policy co-ordination. In this context, the BEPGs could be based on a Commission proposal rather than a recommendation. This See fiche on mandate point 5.

See fiche on mandate point 7.

should help to further the Community interest, policy consistency and coherence even better than at present.

The strengthening of the Commission’s role in the BEPGs process should go hand in hand with a greater degree of involvement of the EP. Reflecting the non-legislative nature of policy coordination, a right of consultation could be envisaged. Moreover, national parliaments should be better involved by their respective governments in the discussions on the BEPGs, thereby increasing national ownership and fostering timely implementation. Finally, democratic accountability could be stepped up by intensified contacts between national MPs and the EP.

Ø As regards specifically public finances under the Stability and Growth Pact,3 the EP has a right of information on the application of sanctions (Article 104-11). Moreover, it has established a practice of presenting its views on the stability and convergence programme updates by means of owninitiative resolutions.

Given the fact that public finances are a matter of close public scrutiny and widely discussed, it would seem appropriate to grant the EP a right of information on the steps undertaken in the excessive deficit procedure, once the Commission considers that an excessive deficit exists or may occur (Article 104-5 to 104-10).

Ø As regards specifically the dialogue between the ECB and the EP, the present arrangements appear appropriate. They ensure mutual information and dialogue while respecting the prerogatives of all parties concerned. Furthermore, the arrangements reflect the relevant Treaty clauses and agreements between both institutions building on this basis. Accordingly, the ECBPresident presents the annual report of his institution to Parliament and may participate in a followup discussion. Moreover, a monetary dialogue is held each quarter when the President or a Board Member addresses the EP’s Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee and engages in an exchange of views with the parliamentarians. Such exchanges can take place at any time at the request of the EP.

Ø There are some other very specific Treaty articles in the area of EMU where the EP is involved in different ways (information, consultation, co-operation, co-decision). Some changes could also be envisaged here to reinforce the type of EP involvement. One example would be where cooperation is foreseen move to codecision.

Considerations for amending the Treaty to increase the role of the European Parliament:

–  –  –

Comments on point 12 of the mandate of the Group:

Formalisation of the Eurogroup

MANDATE OF THE WORKING GROUP ON ECONOMIC GOVERNANCE

–  –  –

• The creation of the Eurogroup reflects the stronger co-ordination requirements between euro-area participants, and its experience over the last 4 years has confirmed its importance and usefulness. The Eurogroup was created by the European Council in Luxembourg (December

1997) as an informal forum that brings together Economic and Finance Ministers from Member States that have adopted the euro, for discussions on EMU-related issues. The Commission, and where appropriate the ECB, are invited to participate. Its informal nature has allowed for free and frank discussions, facilitating the establishment of common views among ministers on matters of common concern. This exchange of views has contributed to achieving an appropriate policy mix in the euro area. The role of the Eurogroup has been enhanced over time by improving its way of working, increasing its visibility and allowing more time for in-depth discussions of euro-area issues. It appears appropriate for the Eurogroup to continue to play its role of informal fora for discussion, which has been conducive to the improving the effectiveness of the co-ordination process.



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