Seminar on Economic and Monetary Union

March 28, 2018

Since 1999 the European Commission has held in JVI premises a yearly seminar on Economic and Monetary Union (Applied EU Economic Policy related to EMU) for officials from EU enlargement candidate countries, extended since the EU enlargement of 2004 also to officials from potential candidates. This five-day seminar is organized by the European Commission's Directorate General for Economic and Financial Affairs (DG ECFIN) with the financial and administrative support of the Technical Assistance and Information Exchange (TAIEX) instrument managed by the European Commission's Directorate General for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations (DG NEAR).

This seminar relies very much on the longstanding cooperation between the Commission and the JVI, at the board of which the European Commission seats as an observer since 2007. The Austrian authorities (the finance ministry and the central bank) very actively back this event and contribute to the agenda.

The seminar serves several purposes. First and foremost it should get officials from EU candidate and potential candidate countries acquainted with the operation and technicalities of EMU, particularly in the light of the EU enlargement negotiations on chapter 17 of the EU acquis on economic and monetary policy. It should also appropriately train these officials in the area of pre-accession economic surveillance carried out by the European Commission, which includes preparation by these countries of medium-term Economic Reform Programs. And more in general it should contribute to EMU visibility by helping to achieve the strategic targets of the EU communication policy on EMU. The seminar is specifically addressed to officials (five per country) involved in the work on policies firmly related to macroeconomic, macro-financial and public finance issues, i.e., to policies that are dealt with under the EMU in the EU. Participation is on invitation only.

In 2017 [1] around 35 officials were invited to participate in the event while 18 lecturers/working groups' moderators contributed to the agenda (around 2/3 of them coming from the European Commission, the rest from the ECB and EU member states' national administrations, in particular of Austria).

Since 1999 the structure of the seminar has evolved, in line with developments in EMU policies and policy making. The 2017 agenda topics can be grouped in five clusters: (I) EMU institutional foundations, (II) EMU monetary policy, (III) EMU fiscal and economic policies, (IV) EU enlargement and EMU, (V) politics of EU/EMU membership. These clusters cover all aspects of policies under EMU: the ECB and the Eurosystem monetary and exchange rate policies and euro adoption, the European Semester's annual surveillance exercise, which integrates fiscal surveillance and the Stability and Growth Pact (SGP) together with economic surveillance and the Macroeconomic Imbalance Procedure (MIP). One cluster focuses on the economic aspects of EU enlargement and the pre-accession economic surveillance. The seminar culminates in working group sessions, where the participants simulate over one day and a half in a very inter-active way, the Economic Reform Program exercise. Over the years, participants have received the course very positively and it is considered to be of mutual benefit for both participants and lecturers.

The main objective of optimally preparing officials from EU enlargement countries for EMU membership can become even more pertinent in a political environment likely to be more favorable to EU enlargement. With Bulgaria and Austria holding the EU rotating presidency in the first and second half of 2018 respectively, there is a political opportunity to move the EU accession process forward. The European Commission communication on A credible enlargement perspective for and enhanced EU engagement with the Western Balkans [2], adopted on 6 February, goes in the same direction by reconfirming the EU's commitment to the Western Balkan countries' accession process.

Francesco Contesso, Advisor; Andreas Papadopoulos, Advisor; Uwe Stamm, Head of Unit; European Commission

[1] from 27 November to 1 December


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