Giancarlo Corsetti, Aitor Erce, 29 April 2020

The Eurogroup recently agreed to provide support during the Covid crisis through a dedicated European Stability Mechanism credit line. A discussion is playing out in European capitals, most intensely in Rome and Madrid, regarding the usefulness of tapping these credit lines. While the final details are still pending, this column evaluates the conditions that seem to be currently on the table. As these programmes provide very little interest savings, designing them in such a way that would not trigger disruptions in the bond markets of borrowing countries is key. To this end, the ESM should consider waiving its seniority and engaging with countries using longer maturity structures.

Laurence Boone, Álvaro Santos Pereira, 27 April 2020

The crisis faced by Europe is extraordinary and requires extraordinary responses. It is also a unique opportunity for Europe, and in particular the EMU, to consolidate its economic and financial architecture and to promote Europe as the engine of “shared prosperity”. This column argues that a significantly reinforced and revamped ESM or a new financial instrument based on joint issuance are possible vehicles to translate words into action. 

Roberto Perotti, 21 April 2020

In response to the pandemic, several proposals have been advanced to mobilise large amounts at the European level, mostly to address the needs of periphery countries. This column argues that because these proposals do not take into account the preoccupations of core countries, the outcome is likely to be general disappointment and recriminations. It offers an alternative proposal, based on the notion that periphery countries are much better equipped to make it on their own than is commonly thought, with a little help from the ECB.

Agnès Bénassy-Quéré, Ramon Marimon, Philippe Martin, Jean Pisani-Ferry, Lucrezia Reichlin, Dirk Schoenmaker, Beatrice Weder di Mauro, 20 April 2020

The EU has been slow to formulate its response to the Covid crisis. Fortunately, things have started to change. The EU’s leaders should finish work on the new borrowing facilities, first by clarifying the maturities of the borrowings, and second by being prepared to beef up their amounts if needed. It is also crucial to find ways to jointly finance priority action and to provide support to countries worst affected by the crisis in order to restart their own economies. The objective of a Recovery Initiative should be to repair and reconstruct the EU economy: to repair corporate balance sheets and value chains; and to reconstruct the economy on a new, sustainable basis through investment in common public goods such as research, resilience, and the greening of the economy. This will involve targeted investment, coordinated restructuring in some sectors, and the introduction of an equity fund to help SMEs survive the crisis. 

Sebastian Horn, Josefin Meyer, Christoph Trebesch, 15 April 2020

The introduction of European Coronabonds is sometimes described as an unprecedented step that would create a dangerous precedent of debt mutualisation. This column shows that this view is wrong and ignores the history of European financial cooperation. Since the 1970s, the European Commission has placed more than a dozen community bonds on private markets, which were guaranteed by the member states and distributed to countries in crisis. These bonds have been fully repaid in the past. Coronabonds with joint and several liability go a step further, but they would stand in a long tradition of European financial solidarity and cooperation.

Aitor Erce, Antonio Garcia Pascual, Ramon Marimon, 06 April 2020

Member states are currently debating how to finance the fight against COVID-19. As time is pressing, practical and readily implementable solutions are needed now. Using the ESM to provide the funds needed is a reasonable and workable way forward. Italy, Spain and other states would benefit from using the ESM access to AAA funding to reinforce their debt dynamics: a combination of loan size, maturity and interest rates would strengthen debt sustainability. This column shows the stabilisation power of an ESM-ECB intervention, using existing instruments and the just announced ESM Rapid Financing Instrument, showing the case of Italy as an example. Combining ECB support with ESM funds would deliver a more resilient euro area, better placed to engage in a post-virus economic recovery. The announced EIB guarantees and the SURE unemployment re-insurance will also help countries. However, these measures are not a supplement, but a complement, to the already feasible ESM financing discussed.

Julian Pröbstl, 04 April 2020

The massive fiscal packages being deployed in Europe raise issues of financing. Economists have proposed three main models. This column offers a pragmatic legal perspective on the options, focusing on their compatibility with EU Law, the ESM Treaty, and German Constitutional Law. It argues that, from a practical legal standpoint, the use of the ESM is preferable to issuing Coronabonds, because it offers more legal certainty and could be implemented more quickly. However, jointly issuing Coronabonds would send the stronger political signal.

Lorenzo Bini Smaghi, 28 March 2020

Since the outbreak of COVID-19 in Europe, calls have been made by academics, politicians and observers to adopt Eurobonds to finance the actions needed to support economic activity. This column argues that the proposal poses two important political challenges. The first is to promote a broad transfer of economic and social competences from the national to the European level. The second is to reform the European Stability Mechanism and ensure that a sufficient number of countries apply so as to avoid stigma.

Lucrezia Reichlin, Dirk Schoenmaker, 26 March 2020

Fiscal and monetary policy coordination is not working in the euro area. This column argues that in order to rebalance the weight of both during major crises, the asymmetry between decision making at the ECB (by majority voting) and the ESM (by unanimity or qualified majority) must be harmonised. This is urgent since the ESM is the only instrument available to provide the common fiscal capacity needed to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

Agnès Bénassy-Quéré, Markus K Brunnermeier, Henrik Enderlein, Emmanuel Farhi, Marcel Fratzscher, Clemens Fuest, Pierre-Olivier Gourinchas, Philippe Martin, Jean Pisani-Ferry, Hélène Rey, Isabel Schnabel, Nicolas Véron, Beatrice Weder di Mauro, Jeromin Zettelmeyer, 02 May 2019

In January 2018, CEPR published a Policy Insight recommending euro area reforms which received broad support as well as some criticism. In this column, the authors argue that the problems that prompted their paper are still there, new problems are on the horizon, and the current state of the policy conversation on euro area reform is disappointing. They also identify priorities that should be at the centre of discussions on reform.

Giorgio Monti, 07 January 2019

Giorgio Monti of the European University Institute discusses the European Stability Mechanism and how it might best be reformed.

Lorenzo Bini Smaghi, Michala Marcussen, 19 July 2018

The euro area debt crisis saw the region ravaged by multiple sovereign bond doom loops and has inspired several proposals for a single safe asset for the region. While a lack of political consensus has proven the main obstacle to date, technical issues relating to the complexity of splitting the existing sovereign debt stock and concerns on contagion amongst senior and junior debt structures also weigh in. This column, part of the VoxEU debate on euro area reform, illustrates how a 20-year Purple bond transition could address these issues and offer a path to genuine Eurobonds.

Nauro Campos, 22 June 2018

The issue of how to reform the EU is well discussed in research and policy. But through which institutions and in which order these reforms should take place is less well debated. Nauro Campos discusses the role of Europe’s institutions in its successes and failures. Based on the findings of the recent CEPR eBook, “Bretton Woods, Brussels, and Beyond: Redesigning the Institutions of Europe”, he suggests that the risks of not reforming these institutions are at least another recession across Europe, but also threats to the European project itself.

Nauro Campos, Jan-Egbert Sturm, 29 May 2018

Economists have discussed what to do to reform the European project and how, but have been silent on who and when. Which institutions and rules are needed and when? This column introduces a new eBook that makes the case such institutional questions are of fundamental importance for the future of Europe. The individual chapters distil the lessons from the institutional framework underpinning the Bretton Woods system and the globalisation wave that followed it. 

Vesa Vihriälä, 13 April 2018

The smooth functioning of the EMU requires risk sharing. This column, which joins VoxEU's Euro Area Reform debate, argues, however, that its best use is not in the support of fiscal expansion in recession countries, but in ensuring the liquidity of solvent sovereigns under market pressure. Giving the ESM/EMF access to central bank financing should be explored as a means to facilitate it.

Jochen Andritzky, Lars Feld, Christoph Schmidt, Isabel Schnabel, Volker Wieland, 21 July 2016

To make the no-bailout clause credible and to enhance the effectiveness of crisis assistance, private creditors should contribute to crisis resolution in the Eurozone. This column proposes a mechanism to allow for orderly restructuring of sovereign debt as part of ESM programmes. If debt exceeds certain thresholds, the mechanism triggers an immediate maturity extension. In a second stage, a deeper debt restructuring could follow, depending on the solvency of a country. The mechanism could be easily implemented by amending ESM guidelines. 

Jean-Marc Fournier, 26 May 2016

The limits of the European Single Market have often been highlighted. This column argues that although implicit barriers remain, the Single Market has delivered substantial benefits to member countries. New empirical evidence is presented of the trade and FDI gains that Central and Eastern European countries have enjoyed since joining the Single Market. On top of making regulations more competition-friendly, regulatory harmonisation can boost the economic links between countries. 

Agnès Bénassy-Quéré, 08 April 2016

The euro is unique in that it is a currency without a sovereign. Since the crisis, there have been major developments towards making the Eurozone more resilient, including the banking union and the European Stability Mechanism (ESM). This column, originally published 12 February 2016, explores whether further normalisation is required to make the Eurozone function properly. It argues that the Eurozone, unlike existing federations, lacks the ability to deliver counter-cyclical fiscal policies while complying with fiscal discipline. Macroeconomic coordination will thus require rules, a strong and independent European Fiscal Board, and the strengthening of the ESM.

Lars Feld, Christoph Schmidt, Isabel Schnabel, Benjamin Weigert, Volker Wieland, 20 February 2015

Claims that ‘austerity has failed’ are popular, especially in the Anglo-Saxon world. This column argues that this narrative is factually wrong and ignores the reasons underlying the Greek crisis. The worst move for Greece would be to return to its old ways. Greece needs to realise that things could actually become much worse than they are now, particularly if membership in the Eurozone cannot be assured. Instead of looking back, Greece needs to continue building a functioning state and a functioning market economy.

Daniel Gros, 05 December 2010

Despite its large size relative to the small Irish economy, last weekend’s bailout is not working. Risk premiums continue to rise. This column argues that part of the problem lies in a seemingly innocuous provision in the rescue facility that is to replace the current European Financial Stability Facility in 2013. The argument is tricky, but the heart of the problem is the insistence that rescue financing be senior to private debt while simultaneously ruling out rescheduling of short-term debt.

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