It has long been permitted to talk of political union on the continent, just as surely as it has been regularly denied in the UK. On 22nd June the “five Presidents” of the Euro area (EU Commission President, Eurogroup President, the President of the Euro Summit, the President of the ECB and the President of the European Parliament) set out their vision of how to deepen economic and monetary union.Their wishes include a common Euro area Treasury with binding commitments to converge the economies of the zone, controlling and disciplining fiscal policies for each nation and completing a financial union.
They recognise that there is too much divergence of economic performance across the zone and they are not happy with 18 million people unemployed in the area. They are concerned about the lack of social cohesion and the shortfall in democratic accountability. It’s good they have noticed these obvious weaknesses of the Eurozone. Their solution is more central control, moving gradually to a common Euro area budget and Treasury. They do not go into the detail of how this would imply substantial transfers of money from the richer to the poorer parts of the zone.
The Euro has always been an orphan currency in search of a country to be its parent.The 5 Presidents wish to get close to a United States of Euroland to act as the sponsor of the currency, and to direct the economic policies of the differing regions of the zone. They aim for a White Paper in 2017. They wish to direct national economic policies more strongly through the European semester process. They want each country to have a competitiveness authority to seek to bring economies more into line with each other. They wish to buttress their single banking regulatory system with a common deposit insurance fund and a single resolution mechanism for banks.
They seek an Advisory Fiscal Board to creep towards controlling budgets more directly, and a common macro economic stabilisation function with access to finance.They want the Euro area to have a single representative on the IMF and to speak with one voice in world economic fora. They want to supplement the economic changes with stronger social policies.They are vague over how democratic accountability can be strengthened, mentioning both the European Parliament and national Parliaments.
All this points to the creation of a United States of Euroland. Single currencies need single budgets, single social policies,and massive transfers of money within the zones to enable them to work. The EU first created its currency and is now belatedly trying to create the country to back it. The UK should understand the force of this movement, and should be clear it cannot join any part of it.
The UK now needs to stress to the EU that they cannot use the EU budget for these purposes. There will have to be a separate Euro area budget to take in extra tax revenue from the Euro area and to distribute it for their common welfare and regional policies. I raised this in the Commons yesterday with the Treasury Minister taking through the EU Finance Bill.