This paper focuses on the roots of strain in the European Monetary Union (EMU). It argues that there is need for a thorough reform of the EU governance structure in conjunction with radical changes in the regulation and supervision of financial markets. The EMU was sub-optimal from its debut and competitiveness gaps did not diminish against the backdrop of its inadequate policy and institutional design. The euro zone crisis is not related to fiscal negligence only; over-borrowing by the private sector and poor lending by banks, as well as a one-sided monetary policy also explain this debacle. The EMU needs to complement its common monetary policy with solid fiscal/budget underpinnings. Fiscal rules and sanctions are necessary, but not sufficient. A common treasury (a federal budget) is needed in order to help the EMU absorb shocks and forestall confidence crises. A joint system of regulation and supervision of financial markets should operate. Emergency measures have to be comprehensive and acknowledge the necessity of a lender of last resort; they have to combat vicious circles. Structural reforms and EMU level policies are needed to enhance competitiveness in various countries and foster convergence.
This paper argues that there are conditions for successful euro area (EA) accession, apart from fiscal rectitude. One is an ex ante critical mass of real convergence which should enhance lasting nominal convergence. Another condition is an overhaul of EA mechanisms and policies that should make it a properly functioning monetary union, which implies an adequate mix between risk-reduction and risk-sharing. It is argued that risk-sharing cannot be secured by private sector arrangements only. Entering the ERM2 is deemed to be no less demanding than euro area accession per se, especially for countries that use fl exible exchange rate regimes. The paper examines also the infl uence of production (value) chains on the efficacy of autonomous monetary and exchange rate policies when it comes to controlling external imbalances; macro-prudential policies, too, are highlighted in this regard. Steady productivity gains are a must for surmounting the middle income trap and achieving sustainable real convergence.