Policy Letter No. 21

Transcript of a Hearing before Members of the House of Lords (UK) in Frankfurt on Genuine Economic and Monetary Union and its Implication for the UK

On November 8, 2013, several members of the British House of Lords’ Subcommittee A conducted a hearing at the ECB in Frankfurt, Germany, on “Genuine Economic and Monetary Union and its Implications for the UK”. Professors Otmar Issing and Jan Pieter Krahnen were called as expert witnesses.

The testimony began with a general discussion on the elements considered necessary for a functioning internal market. Do economic union and monetary union require a fiscal union or even a political union, beyond the elements of the banking union currently being prepared? In this context, also the critique of the German current account surplus and the international expectations that Germany stimulate internal demand to support growth in crisis countries, were discussed.

With regard to the monetary union, the members of the subcommittee asked for an assessment of how European nations and the banking industry would have fared in the banking crisis that followed the Lehman collapse, had there not been a common currency. Given the important role that the ECB has played in the course of the crisis management, the members further asked for an evaluation of the OMT-program of the ECB and also if the monetary union is in need of common debt instruments, in order to provide the ECB with the possibility of buying EU liabilities, comparable to the Fed buying US Treasury bonds. Finally, the dual role of the ECB for monetary policy and banking supervision was an issue touched on by several questions.