Barrie Maguire

How to Save the Euro

The euro zone was created on two assumptions: member countries would adhere to strict deficit and debt limits, and those who violated the limits would not be bailed out. Now that the Greek crisis has proved both assumptions invalid, the only hope for imposing market discipline throughout the euro zone is the creation of a European Monetary Fund.

BRUSSELS – The European Union is facing a constitutional moment. The founders of Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) warned even before the euro’s birth that fiscal profligacy would constitute a danger to the common currency’s stability. Nevertheless, the euro-zone’s member countries insisted on maintaining their full sovereignty in this area.

The solution to this conundrum was supposed to have been the Stability and Growth Pact, working in tandem with the so-called “no bailout” clause in the Maastricht Treaty. The latter was intended to impose market discipline, and the former, to preserve the stability of public finances by fixing a strict limit on the size of national budget deficits.

Both proved futile. The Stability and Growth Pact clearly did not prevent “excessive” deficits, and the no-bailout clause failed its first test when European leaders, facing the Greek crisis, solemnly declared on February 11 that euro-zone members would “take determined and coordinated action, if needed, to safeguard financial stability in the euro area as a whole.”

To continue reading, please log in or enter your email address.

To read this article from our archive, please log in or register now. After entering your email, you'll have access to two free articles every month. For unlimited access to Project Syndicate, subscribe now.

required

By proceeding, you are agreeing to our Terms and Conditions.

Log in

http://prosyn.org/KRJ0g2u;

Cookies and Privacy

We use cookies to improve your experience on our website. To find out more, read our updated cookie policy and privacy policy.