European monetary system and european currency

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The first concrete proposal for a Monetary Union was presented in the so-called Werner Report in 1970. The Report was intended to pave the way for the establishment of a Monetary Union in the early 1980s. However, the proposals of the Werner Report were never implemented - being overtaken by world events. After the break-up of the Bretton Woods system and the shock of the first oil crisis in 1973, most western European economies were contaminated by the economic sickness popularly labelled "Eurosclerosis", characterised by high inflation and persisting unemployment. At that time, the European economies were protected by regulations and financial markets were still poorly developed. In this environment, it was concluded that a Monetary Union would not be possible and the project was postponed.

The idea of establishing Monetary Union was revived only in 1988 and a detailed proposal was presented the following year in the Delors Report, after the launch (in 1985) of the Single Market programme on the free movement of goods, services, capital and labour. Because of the single market, the Report could be more explicit and credible with regard to how best to achieve closer economic ties between the EU economies before the introduction of a single currency. Moreover, the Report was supported by a detailed description of an institutional set-up geared towards ensuring stability-oriented economic policies.

Notwithstanding the thorough work invested in the Delors Report, almost 10 years of convergence and technical preparations were required in order to ensure the successful implementation of the euro on 1 January 1999. And the project is still not over: the euro coins and banknotes will be introduced only in 2002 - 13 years after the presentation of the Delors Report and 32 years after the presentation of the Werner Report.

Achieving a credible currency

Today, almost two months after the introduction of the euro, we can say that the technical changeover to the euro was successful. Now, the Eurosystem (i.e. the ECB and the 11 national central banks of the participating Member States) must focus on ensuring the long-term success of the new currency. The credibility of a currency is built up by several factors, the basis of which is the central bank's commitment to price stability. Here, the Eurosystem is in the fortunate position of being assigned, through the Maastricht Treaty, the unambiguous primary objective of maintaining price stability in the euro area. Another fundamental building block of credibility is ensuring that monetary policy decisions are independent of political pressures. This building block was also laid down in the Maastricht Treaty, which ensures that the ECB and the participating national central banks enjoy a very high degree of independence, possibly more than any other central bank in the world.

The credibility of a currency also relies on the preparedness of governments to pursue stability-oriented policies of fiscal discipline and to undertake necessary structural reforms. On this point, the Stability and Growth Pact adopted by the EU countries provides a basic framework for fiscal discipline and should enhance the governments' incentive to proceed with structural reforms.

In order to enhance credibility, it is also important that the central bank's strategy for achieving the primary objective is clear and that the link between the strategy and the central bank's policy actions is easily understood by the public. By following a transparent approach, the central bank can directly improve the efficiency of monetary policy. This contributes to achieving stable prices with the lowest possible interest rates.

Striving towards increased transparency led the Governing Council of the ECB (composed of the Governors of the 11 national central banks and the six members of the ECB's Executive Board) to establish a precise definition of price stability in order to bring about absolute clarity as regards the primary objective; price stability was defined as a year-on-year increase of the Harmonised Index of Consumer Prices (HICP) for the euro area of below 2%. This is a medium-term objective. In the short run, many factors beyond the scope of monetary policy also affect the price movements.

The adoption of the Eurosystem's monetary policy strategy also aimed at enhancing transparency in the implementation of monetary policy. The strategy is based on two key elements: First, money has been assigned a prominent role in the form of a reference value for the growth of the euro area wide monetary aggregate M3. Second, the Eurosystem carries out a broadly based assessment of the outlook for price developments and the risks to price stability in the euro area on the basis of a wide range of economic and financial indicators.

Реферат опубликован: 12/08/2008