European Union leaders, seeking to avoid a repeat of the crisis that has dogged the 27-country bloc for the past three years, are debating plans for an unprecedented shift of national financial policy powers to the EU.
Here are the main points they are discussing:
— The broad terms of a banking union: This will provide a single rulebook for banks and set out a coordinated approach to helping lenders that get in trouble. EU leaders have already agreed to set up a banking supervisor under the aegis of the European Central Bank, the first step toward creating a banking union.
— Giving a European authority within the banking union the right to close down or restructure banks. In the latter case, bailout funds would come from the banking sector, not taxpayers.
— Creating a uniform deposit-guarantee system across Europe. This would add confidence to savers and reduce the risk of runs on banks that run into financial trouble.
— Giving the EU a say over the national budgets of countries that use the euro and others that agree to the plan. Such controls would make sure member states do not spend more than they are allowed, making sovereign bailouts less likely.
— Creating a budget for the eurozone to support structural reforms in financially troubled nations, fight unemployment or boost growth. This would effectively create a eurozone finance ministry. It could also foresee the possibility of eurobonds — jointly-issued debt among eurozone states. This a controversial idea that would reduce the borrowing costs for some countries but raise it for others.
— Increasing the European Parliament's say in financial policies. This hopes to give more say to popularly elected EU officials in that area. Officials in the European Commission, which currently manages the EU's financial policies, are not elected but appointed.