EMU: Getting the Endgame Right. Monitoring European Integration 7

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By Spring 1998 agreement must be reached on the first group of countries to participate in EMU, which is scheduled to begin on 1 January 1999. Written by a team of distinguished European academics, CEPR?s 7th Monitoring European Integration Report argues that the final stage of transition to EMU remains poorly understood, that many extant proposals (whether from academics or policy-makers) have fatal flaws, and that finding a safer transition strategy is a matter of urgent priority. Amazingly, decisions already made at Maastricht and Madrid already preclude any certainty about conversion rates between the Euro and national currencies until EMU actually begins. Nevertheless, it would be possible to preannounce bilateral conversion rates between the ?Ins?. The authors recommend doing so immediately and on the basis of existing central parities in the ERM. They argue it would then be possible credibly to adopt very wide bands during the transition. In comparison with other proposals - such as reversion to narrow bands, or floating without prior commitment to the end point - the strategy advocated is not only more robust to speculative attack, but also more likely to deliver appropriate initial competitiveness levels in EMU. This proposal also offers a natural solution to the problem of the ?pre-Ins?: their eventual entry should be at conversion rates based on central parities ruling two years prior to their entry. The report will be influential during policy discussions in preparation for EMU, and will have a much longer term impact on analysis of monetary policy within an increasingly integrated Europe.