CONFERENCE - 03.12.2015

Which convergence for the euro area?

Copyright flickr/Sonny Abesamis

The dramatic negotiations around Greece have triggered another round of soul-searching on the future European Monetary Union. There is a general agreement that the euro area is not viable in its current set-up. There is less agreement on what needs to be done.


When: Thursday, 3 December 2015, 1:00 – 6:30 pm
Venue: Friedrichstraße, 10117 Berlin
Organizers: Jacques Delors Institut – Berlin, Bertelsmann Stiftung




13:00 – 14:15 Registration and buffet lunch
14:15 – 14:30 Welcome note

Joachim Fritz-Vannahme, Bertelsmann Stiftung

14:30 – 15:30 
Session 1: Economic convergence – understanding a contested concept 

Convergence plays a central role in the proposed reforms to strengthen EMU. There is an understanding that convergence is needed between euro area countries to allow for a better functioning of the single currency. In particular, it would improve monetary policy transmission and price transmission across the currency union in an effort to limit future imbalances. Yet the very notion of convergence is hotly debated.

This session aims to answer some of the following questions: What are the relevant dimensions of convergence? How can we asses and measure them? How much convergence is needed for a stable currency union? And what are alternative concepts to determine euro area stability? 

Chair: Iain Begg (London School of Economics)

Panel: Bergljot Bjørnson Barkbu (International Monetary Fund), Ettore Dorrucci (European Central Bank), Henrik Enderlein (Hertie School of Governance/Jacques Delors Institut – Berlin) 

15:30 – 16:30
Session 2: Fostering convergence in the euro area – instruments and actors

Building on the conceptual insights from the first panel, this session discusses ways to improve the structural features of euro area economies that make them more resilient in a monetary union. This includes completing the Single Market, structural reforms, and macroeconomic stabilization mechanisms for the euro area. Some observers demand that the responsibility for structural policies is firmly rooted in member states in order to strengthen ownership of distributive measures. Others argue strongly in favour for stronger surveillance and more common standards at the EU-level.

This session deals with the following questions: Which specific reforms matter in the euro area and why? (In what areas) do we need more common standards? And which processes and instruments are best suited for fostering convergence? 

Chair: Pascal Lamy (Jacques Delors Institute, former Director-General of the World Trade Organisation)

Panel: Catherine L. Mann (OECD), Karl Pichelmann (European Commission), Holger Schmieding (Berenberg)

16:30 – 17:00 Coffee break
17:00 – 18:30
Session 3: The route towards euro area reforms – how do we get there?   

The Greek drama has cast doubt on the very existence of the common currency. It has shown once more than the euro area in its current form is not viable. Yet there is no agreement on the way ahead. What is more: In many euro area member states, governments have little appetite to reform in the face of an increasing popular scepticism about the current path of European integration. Beyond considerations on the technicalities of reform, a political debate within and across member states is needed to anchor the reform process and connect it with European citizens.

This session discusses the politics of reforms: How can the concerns about “moral hazard” – a priority for Germany and others – with the need for more “risk-sharing” – demanded by France and others – be balanced out? How can reforms to the euro area be pursued in a politically feasible and democratically viable way? What are the political opportunities and threats along the reform path? In a nutshell: How can the political battle to strengthen the euro area be won?

Chair: Aart De Geus (Bertelsmann Stiftung)

Panel: László Andor (Hertie School of Governance, former EU Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion), Marcel Fratzscher (German Institute for Economic Research DIW), Steffen Kampeter (Member of the German Bundestag), Gertrude Tumpel-Gugerell (Austrian Institute for Economic Research, former member of the ECB Executive Board)

18:30 Reception