European monetary system and european currency

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Although a federal and decentralised central bank is not a novelty, the Eurosystem is a special case. It is the central bank of an economy that has a much deeper national segmentation than any other currency area. Its components have for many generations (and until few weeks ago) performed the full range of central banking functions under their own responsibility and in a national context. They have been accountable to, and sometimes dependent on, national institutions. Public opinion has perceived, and still perceives, them as national entities. The notion of the public interest they were referring to was the notion of a national interest. Significant differences existed, and partly remain, in their tasks, organisations, statutes and cultures.

In this situation, making the Eurosystem a central bank requires drawing the appropriate distinction between being national in the organisational sense and being euro area-wide in the definition of the public interest pursued. This is a difficult distinction to draw in conceptual terms, not only in practical terms or from the point of view of personal attitudes.

In the preparatory discussions and negotiations that led to the Maastricht Treaty, central banks took the view that monetary functions are indivisible and that, contrary to the fiscal field, subsidiarity cannot apply to the monetary field. Their traditional and strongly held position has been that the public interest assigned to central bank is a whole which cannot easily be decomposed. Indeed, while there is a fairly well developed theory of fiscal federalism, there is no equivalent for the monetary field.

As I said, I do think that the functions of a central bank constitute a whole that cannot be split. This does not exclude that the Eurosystem should avoid seeking more uniformity than necessary and that some diversity is a positive factor and has always been valued as an aspect of the richness of Europe. Perhaps even a limited degree of internal competition may be used as an incentive to good performance. But can the Eurosystem depart from the two historical models of the Federal Reserve System and the Bundesbank? What are, in conceptual terms, the criteria of what I just called the "appropriate distinction"? What should be the touchstone?

It would be an illusion, I think, to expect or pretend to have a full and satisfactory answer solely from legal interpretation. And it would be unfortunate if the Eurosystem were to fall into the trap of the narrowly legalistic approach that paralyses international organisations. The Eurosystem is not an international organisation, its model is not the Articles of Agreement of the IMF. Of course, the answer will have to comply with the Treaty, which provides useful guidance. However, the system is entrusted to decision-making bodies that are composed not of lawyers, but of central bankers. They carry the primary responsibility to manage the euro and are accountable for that responsibility. They have known for years what a central bank is and how vague the wordings of central bank statutes have historically been. Their touchstone can only be, in the end, the effectiveness in the accomplishment of the basic mission embodied in the triadic paradigm of central banking functions.


The second challenge comes from the high level of unemployment in Europe.

Every economist, observer or policy-maker would probably agree that the most serious problem for the European economy, today and in the years to come, is high unemployment. In large parts of continental Europe the economic system just seems to have lost the ability to create new jobs.

Also on the nature and causes of European unemployment there is a large degree of agreement, as there was agreement on the nature and causes of European inflation well before price stability was finally restored in the 1990s. The key words describing such agreement are structural factors and flexibility. There is agreement that perverse incentives, direct and indirect taxation of labour, unsustainable pension schemes, overly tight employment rules and rigidities throughout the economy are the main obstacles to the creation of new jobs. There is agreement that the typically European welfare state system should be profoundly corrected, but not suppressed. Many also think that rather than following a "Thatcherian" policy of cracking down on the trade unions, it would be preferable to work with, rather than against, the labour organisations, although reform entails occasional confrontations.

As with inflation in the 1970s and 1980s, so unemployment in the 1990s - while being a European disease - is quite diversified across European countries and regions, due to differences in both policies and economic situations. It is over or around 20 per cent in the Mezzogiorno and Sachsen-Anhalt, but below 7 per cent in Lombardy and Baden-Wьrttemberg; over 18 per cent in Spain, but less than 4 in the Netherlands.

Реферат опубликован: 12/08/2008