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Questo articolo è stato pubblicato il 24 luglio 2012 alle ore 17:56.


BRUSSELS – Following the escalation of the euro crisis and decisions taken at the European Union’s last summit, especially EU leaders’ commitment to embark on the road it is high time to ask what comes next. Whatever the final outcome, the current crisis will fundamentally shape the future of European integration.

In a worst-case scenario, Europe’s sovereign-debt crisis could cause the eurozone to implode, with immediate negative effects for the EU itself. Fortunately, this scenario still seems rather unlikely – as EU countries inside and outside the eurozone seem keen to avoid the enormous economic, financial, political, and social fallout that such a scenario implies. But the danger of a fundamental disintegration has increased over time, and today such an outcome cannot be excluded.

At the same time, it seems unlikely that member states will be ready and able to make one giant leap towards a United States of Europe – that is, a genuine federal entity in which EU countries agree to surrender national sovereignty on an unprecedented scale.

The record since 2010 suggests that muddling through will remain the EU’s dominant approach for the foreseeable future. But, contrary to the past, the increasing existential pressures on the common currency and the constant scrutiny by markets and citizens will require bold policy responses that go well beyond the lowest common denominator.

At the end of the day, ambitious muddling through will most likely lead to a higher degree of sui generis economic and fiscal integration (especially among euro-zone countries), including binding synchronization of national budgets, greater economic coordination, and eventually also some limited form of debt mutualization. In other words, resolving the crisis will require more Europe, though the final outcome is impossible to predict, as it will result from a complex process aimed at reconciling divergent and opposing positions both within the EU and among eurozone countries.

The EU’s leaders have asked Herman Van Rompuy, the president of the European Council, to develop, in close collaboration with the presidents of the European Commission, the Eurogroup, and the European Central Bank, a road map to achieve a Genuine Economic and Monetary Union. The final report, due to be delivered in December 2012, should identify which additional steps can be taken on the basis of the existing EU treaties, and which measures require treaty amendments.

Given the urgency of the crisis, some of the more immediate steps towards a higher level of economic and fiscal integration, which are not enforceable under the current EU treaties, might require additional intergovernmental arrangements outside of the EU’s treaty framework. Such an approach should not be a goal in itself, but it might be a necessary evil to avert the danger of a euro implosion.

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