The Commission’s December Package 18 Months Later
15 Pages Posted: 31 Dec 2019
Date Written: December 9, 2019
On December 6, 2017, the European Commission published a set of legislative and non-legislative proposals, quickly labelled by the Brussels bubble as the ‘Saint Nicholas’ package. Building upon earlier institutional reflections (most notably the 2015 Five Presidents’ Report and the Commission’s own Reflection Paper on Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) Deepening), and seeking to take advantage of the window of opportunity opened by Macron’s election, the package consists in a bundle of initiatives all geared towards the completion of the EMU. In a nutshell, the package consists in legislative proposals on the repatriation of the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) and the Treaty on Stability, Coordination and Governance (TSCG) within the EU legal order. It envisions a strengthening of the autonomous budgetary capacity of the Eurozone, through a consolidation of the Structural Reforms Support Programme and the setting up of a new stabilization mechanism (entitled the European Investment Stabilization Function). It also strives to streamline the institutional architecture of the Eurozone, by creating a new position of European Minister for Economy and Finance, which would merge the Commission vice-presidency in charge of Eurozone matters with the presidency of the Eurogroup. Finally, the package envisages punctual modifications to the Common Provisions Regulation.
This Working Paper aims at critically assessing how the Package has fared in the first 18 months after its publication. It will first come back to the approach favored by the Commission in the Package, and shed light on the ambitions it is to serve, and its intrinsic limits. The paper will then provide an overview of the institutional reactions the Package and its various proposals have triggered, both within the other European Union (EU) institutions, and in European capitals. This overview will primarily underline major difficulties to move forward on any of the proposals made by the Commission. The paper will end with an attempt to identify the key factors that may explain the current deadlock.
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