BRUSSELS – The leaders of the European Union, minus the United Kingdom, agreed on Friday to focus on the completion of a European Banking Union and to establish a European Monetary Fund as key objectives of a Euro-area reform aimed at reinforcing the bloc’s currency.
Donald Tusk, President of the European Council, Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission and the President of France, Emmanuel Macron spoke during a press conference after the EU’s heads of state and prime minister’s Summit, save the UK, regarding these matters.
Tusk explained that participants at the summit had agreed to his proposal that “in the next six months, the work of our finance ministers should concentrate on areas where a convergence of views is the greatest.”
Tusk added that “step by step” progress should concentrate on such issues as the completion of the Banking Union and the transformation of the European Stability Mechanism, the Euro-area’s rescue fund, into a European Monetary Fund, significantly strengthening the resilience of the European Monetary Union.
Among other initiatives with less convergence of views is the creation of a fiscal capacity that will enable the stabilization of the Euro-area should a financial crisis arise within a specific country, the simplification of fiscal discipline guidelines or the creation of a Euro-area Minister of Economy and Finance, Tusk said.
He added the he would call the next Euro currency summit in March.
It will pave the way for the EU Heads of State summit in June, the moment Tusk said he expected the first major decisions to be taken.
Juncker then said that, “We will see next March and again in June what progress has been made.”
He said some countries, which he did not name, were reticent to an advance towards the Banking Union as they considered Europe’s banking sector to remain at a high level of risk.
“Those who talk of risk-reduction might well wish to consult the figures instead, because they will see that the equity of the banks has been increased significantly and backlogs have been reduced by 16 percent this year alone,” Juncker added.
He added that while problems had not been fully resolved, significant progress had been made.
Macron said that “points of convergence” had to be sought among member countries and concluded it was possible to reach an agreement “over many matters” if “the right focus” was adopted.
Macron said the March Summit would be able to host the first “strategic and political” talks regarding what they expected to achieve within the next five or 10 years within the Euro-area.