A group of 14 prominent economists, seven each from France and from Germany, has issued a detailed and rather comprehensive proposal for reform of the Euro Area (CEPR 2018).* This is a welcome initiative. There is a window of opportunity for reform in the Euro Area. Economically it has been created by the strengthening and increasingly broad economic upturn: policymakers can leave firefighting mode and focus on structural governance reforms. Politically it has been opened up by the 2015 report by the five presidents of the EU institutions, the initiatives by the new French President Macron, the proposals by the European Commission of December 2017, and, most recently, the declarations of intent on Europe emerging from the grand-coalition talks in Germany.
Together Germany and France account for half of Euro Area GDP. The authors of the report are all well-known in policy-oriented circles, while coming from different traditions. For all these reasons the report is set to be very influential. This appraisal follows the structure of the report itself, examining the underlying philosophy and problem analysis (1), the proposals relating to the financial sector (2), to fiscal governance (3) and finally institutional questions (4). An overall assessment with recommendations for extensions and alternatives concludes (5). [Read more…]