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Европейская денежная система

second most widely used currency, behind the US dollar and ahead of the

Japanese yen. The private use of the euro as an investment and financing

currency and its official use as a reserve, intervention and pegging

currency are increasing rapidly, while it is developing at a slower pace as

a payment currency in the exchange of goods and services. The use of the

euro as a unit of account is linked to its use as store of value and a

medium of exchange.

Taking the current situation as a starting point, the Eurosystem's

position concerning the future international role of the euro is crystal

clear: we shall not adopt a belligerent stance in order to force the use of

the euro upon the world economy. We are convinced that the use of the euro

as an international currency will come about anyway. It will happen

spontaneously, slowly but inexorably, without any impulses other than those

based on free will and the decisions of market participants, without any

logic other than that of the market. In other words, the

internationalisation of the euro is not a policy objective of the

Eurosystem; it will neither be fostered nor hindered by us. The development

of the euro as an international currency will be a market-driven process, a

free process, which will take place, without a doubt.

Factors determining the importance of the euro in the world economy

We understand that the euro fulfils the necessary conditions to

become a leading international currency with the US dollar and not against

it. There is enough room for both currencies in the world economy.

The necessary conditions for a currency to become an international

currency are based on two broad factors: low risk and large size. The low

risk factor is related to the confidence inspired by the currency and its

central bank, which in turn mainly depends on the internal and external

stability of the currency. The low risk factor tends to lead to

diversification among international currencies, since diversification is a

means to reduce the overall risk; it acts, so to speak, as a centrifugal

force. By contrast, the large size factor relates to the relative

demographic economic and financial importance of the area which supports

the currency; in other words, the "habitat" of the currency. The large size

factor generally tends to lead to centralisation around one or several key

international currencies. It can be seen as a centripetal force, as a

virtuous circle, which will tend to lead to an increasing use of the euro

as an international currency. Let us consider these two factors in more


The stability of the currency and the credibility of the ECB

The first factor concerns low risk, credibility and stability. The

stability of the euro is a priority for the ECB. Compared with the idea of

stability, the strength of the euro is of lesser importance. This does not

mean that the exchange rate of the euro does not constitute an element to

be considered in the monetary policy strategy of the ECB. However, the

basic factor that will determine the importance of the euro as a widely

used currency in the world economy, in addition to the demographic,

economic and financial dimensions of the euro area, is, without a doubt,

the stability of the new currency, understood as a means to maintain the

purchasing power of savings.

In the global economy the transmission of financial crises by means

of different mechanisms (devaluations of weak currencies, subsequent

increases in interest rates, etc.) is frequently mentioned. Less is said

about the spillover or transmission of positive economic circumstances,

such as stability. The Eurosystem will "export" stability to the rest of

the world economy, and not only in the case of those countries which decide

to tie their currencies, formally or otherwise, to the euro (through the

ERM II or other arrangements). In a global economy the euro area cannot be

an island of stability, but it can transmit its stability to the rest of

the world economy as the links between regions increase.

Stability is the basic requirement for a good currency. It is what we

at the ECB want for the euro. We want a stable euro, not necessarily a

strong euro. In the long term the euro will derive strength from its


The stability of the euro is the basis for the confidence in and the

credibility of the ECB, without which a large international role for the

euro would be unthinkable. Stability is the proof of the effectiveness of

the institution. Yet in order to be credible it is not sufficient for the

ECB to maintain stability. Other parameters of its action must be

considered: accountability, transparency and communication, a Europe-wide


The conditions for the credibility of the euro are certainly

demanding. However, the achievement of these conditions is the aim of all

those of us who have responsibilities in relation to the operation of the


The "habitat" of the euro

The second factor, which we have called the large size factor or the

habitat of the euro, is important because without a certain critical mass,

a currency cannot have international relevance, however high its degree of

stability. In addition to quality, quantity is required, as suggested by

the example of the reduced degree of international use of the Swiss franc

in relation to other stable currencies, such as the US dollar or the


Mark until 1998.

The figures relating to the population and the GDP of the euro area

illustrate this. With 292 million inhabitants, its population exceeds that

of the United States (270 million) and that of Japan (127 million). The GDP

of the euro area is, on the other hand, equal to 76% of the GDP of the

United States (EUR 5,774 billion compared with EUR 7,592 billion), though

it is higher than that of Japan (EUR 3,327 billion). The source of this

information, which refers to 1998, is Eurostat.

However, even more important than the current figures is the

potential for the future development of the euro area, in terms of

population and GDP, if and when the so-called "pre-ins" (Denmark, Greece,

Sweden and the United Kingdom) join the Eurosystem.

The entry of these countries would result in a monetary area of 376

million inhabitants, 39% larger than the United States and almost triple

the size of Japan, with a GDP of EUR 7,495 billion, only slightly less than

that of the United States and 125% higher than that of Japan.

All these facts and figures which demonstrate the demographic and

economic importance of the European Union would be further strengthened by

enlargement to Eastern Europe. Our continent has a historical, cultural and

geographical identity - from the Iberian Peninsula to the Urals, with

certain additional external territories - which, in the future, may also

come to form an economic unit. However that is, for the moment, a distant


The degree of openness of an economic area is also a relevant factor

as regards the international role of its currency. In this respect the euro

area is more open than the United States or Japan, with a percentage of

external trade of around 25.8% of GDP, compared with 19.6% for the United

States and 17.9% in the case of Japan (data from Eurostat for 1997).

However, a euro area consisting of the 15 countries of the European Union

would be more closed, by the mere arithmetic fact that the transactions

with the present pre-ins would become domestic transactions, resulting in a

coefficient of openness of 19.4%, similar to that of the United States.

Clearly, the size and the degree of openness are parameters that move in

opposite directions: the larger the euro area, the smaller its degree of

openness to other countries.

The financial dimension of the euro

The size or habitat of an economy does not only depend on demographic

or economic factors; it also has to do with the financial base or dimension

of the area. In considering the financial dimension of the euro area, the

first relevant feature to observe is the low level of capitalisation of the

stock markets in comparison with the United States and Japan. Compared with

a stock market capitalisation of EUR 3,655 billion in the euro area in

1998, the United States presents a figure almost four times this amount

(EUR 13,025 billion). Japan ranks third, with EUR 2,091 billion. There

would be a marked difference if one were to include all 15 countries of the

European Union, since the stock exchange capitalisation would increase to

EUR 6,081 billion.

Although these figures could give the impression that the euro area

has a relatively small financial dimension relative to its economic

dimension, this is not the case. The lower degree of development of the

capital markets is offset by a higher degree of banking assets. This means

that the financial base of real economic activity in Europe is founded on

bank intermediation, which is also a feature of the Japanese economy. For

example, private domestic credit in the euro area amounts to 92.4% of GDP,

while in the United States it is only 68.9%. Conversely, fixed domestic

income represents 34.2% of GDP in the euro area compared with 66.1% of GDP

in the United States (statistics from the International Monetary Fund and

the Bank for International Settlements as at the end of 1997, taken from

the Monthly Bulletin of the European Central Bank). We therefore have two

distinct models of private financing which clearly have to be taken into

account when assessing Europe's financial dimension compared with the

United States or Japan.



The euro as a catalyst for European integration

The euro, the Eurosystem's monetary policy and, in general, the

activity of the ECB and the Eurosystem will play a key role in the

integration of European financial markets and all markets in general. We

can say that the euro will act as a catalyst for European economic


Monetary and financial integration

The integration of the European money markets relies, of course, on

the existence of a single system for refinancing the banks in the euro

area, that is to say on the common monetary policy. However, it also relies

technically on a system of instantaneous data transfer and on the new

common payment system, TARGET, enabling real-time gross settlement. Thanks

to the smooth operation of the information, communication and payment

systems, a common monetary policy is realistic and the integration of the

markets can take place. Such integration will, in turn, involve greater

liquidity and further development of the financial markets.

A specific channel through which the monetary policy of the ECB and

the TARGET system can have a direct impact on the development of the

financial markets of the euro area is the requirement to have guarantees or

collateral for operations with the ECB. This requirement for adequate

collateral can stimulate the process of loan securitisation, especially in

the case of the banking institutions of certain financial systems. The

underlying assets can be used across borders, which means that a banking

institution in a country belonging to the European System of Central Banks

(ESCB) can receive funds from its national central bank by pledging assets

located in other countries, which is also relevant from the perspective of

the integration of the financial markets of the area.

The trend towards further integration of the European financial

markets, accompanied by increased use of the euro as a vehicle for

international investment, should logically follow a process which would

start in the short-term money market, subsequently be expanded into the

longer-term money market and finally extend to the public and private bond

and equity markets. In the short term there must be a tendency for the

differentials in money market interest rates to be eliminated, as the

functioning of the market improves, while in the long-term securities

markets - both public and private, of course - interest rates will always

include a risk premium linked to the degree of solvency of the country

(deficit and public debt, commitments on pensions), or to the credit risk

of the private issuer, and to the liquidity of the securities.

Economic integration Monetary and financial integration stemming from

the euro and the activity of the Eurosystem will affect the operation of

the European single market in a positive way. The European market, with a

single currency, will tend to be more transparent, more competitive, more

efficient and will function more smoothly. This is the reason why joining

the European Union, as a general rule, leads to joining the euro area, once

certain economic conditions (the so-called convergence criteria) are


The case of Denmark, as you will know better than I, constitutes an

accepted exception to the general rule, formalised in Protocol No. 8 on

Denmark of the Treaty on European Union signed in Maastricht on 7 February

1992, and in the so-called "Decision concerning certain problems raised by

Denmark on the Treaty on European Union" of 11 and 12 December 1992, which

contains the notification from Denmark that it would not participate in the

third stage of the European Economic and Monetary Union.

However, the Danish krone was in fact pegged to the Deutsche Mark

from 1982 until the end of 1998. Furthermore, since 1 January 1999 it has

been participating in ERM II with a rather narrow fluctuation band of

±2.25%, and effectively has had an almost fixed exchange rate vis-а-vis the

euro. Therefore, the Danish monetary policy, through this exchange rate

strategy, is the monetary policy of the Eurosystem. In other words, Denmark

follows "the rules of the game" almost entirely, or as the Governor of

Danmarks Nationalbank, Ms Bodil Nyboe Andersen, often says, "The Danish

krone shadows the euro".

In this connection, and before the question and answer session

begins, let me conclude by addressing the following key questions to you,

on the understanding that this is a rhetorical way to express my ideas and

that I do not necessarily expect any of you to answer them.

If Denmark already is following "the rules of the game", why, then,

should you not make use of the advantages of belonging to the Eurosystem?

Why, then, should you not participate in the decisions concerning the

monetary policy which, in actual fact, applies to Denmark?


(1) For a more detailed analysis, see the article entitled "The

international role of the euro", in the August 1999 edition of the ECB's

Monthly Bulletin, pp. 31-35.


European Economic and Monetary Union - principles and


-#"+ !-+ 1999\DRAFT SYLLABUS FOR THE CLASummary of a presentation by Ms

Sirkka Hдmдlдinen,

Member of the Executive Board of the European Central Bank,

The Tore Browaldh lecture 1999,

School of Economics and Commercial Law, Gцteborg University,

Gothenburg, 25 February 1999

The European integration process started shortly after the Second

World War and was, at the time, strongly motivated by political factors.

The aim was to eliminate the risk that wars and crises would once more

plague the continent. The first concrete result was the establishment, in

1952, of the European Coal and Steel Community between six countries

(Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands). This was

followed by the adoption of the Treaty of Rome in 1957, laying the

foundations for the European Economic Community.

The first concrete proposal for a Monetary Union was presented in the

so-called Werner Report in 1970. The Report was intended to pave the way

for the establishment of a Monetary Union in the early 1980s. However, the

proposals of the Werner Report were never implemented - being overtaken by

world events. After the break-up of the Bretton Woods system and the shock

of the first oil crisis in 1973, most western European economies were

contaminated by the economic sickness popularly labelled "Eurosclerosis",

characterised by high inflation and persisting unemployment. At that time,

the European economies were protected by regulations and financial markets

were still poorly developed. In this environment, it was concluded that a

Monetary Union would not be possible and the project was postponed.

The idea of establishing Monetary Union was revived only in 1988 and

a detailed proposal was presented the following year in the Delors Report,

after the launch (in 1985) of the Single Market programme on the free

movement of goods, services, capital and labour. Because of the single

market, the Report could be more explicit and credible with regard to how

best to achieve closer economic ties between the EU economies before the

introduction of a single currency. Moreover, the Report was supported by a

detailed description of an institutional set-up geared towards ensuring

stability-oriented economic policies.

Notwithstanding the thorough work invested in the Delors Report,

almost 10 years of convergence and technical preparations were required in

order to ensure the successful implementation of the euro on 1 January

1999. And the project is still not over: the euro coins and banknotes will

be introduced only in 2002 - 13 years after the presentation of the Delors

Report and 32 years after the presentation of the Werner Report.

Achieving a credible currency

Today, almost two months after the introduction of the euro, we can

say that the technical changeover to the euro was successful. Now, the

Eurosystem (i.e. the ECB and the 11 national central banks of the

participating Member States) must focus on ensuring the long-term success

of the new currency. The credibility of a currency is built up by several

factors, the basis of which is the central bank's commitment to price

stability. Here, the Eurosystem is in the fortunate position of being

assigned, through the Maastricht Treaty, the unambiguous primary objective

of maintaining price stability in the euro area. Another fundamental

building block of credibility is ensuring that monetary policy decisions

are independent of political pressures. This building block was also laid

down in the Maastricht Treaty, which ensures that the ECB and the

participating national central banks enjoy a very high degree of

independence, possibly more than any other central bank in the world.

The credibility of a currency also relies on the preparedness of

governments to pursue stability-oriented policies of fiscal discipline and

to undertake necessary structural reforms. On this point, the Stability and

Growth Pact adopted by the EU countries provides a basic framework for

fiscal discipline and should enhance the governments' incentive to proceed

with structural reforms.

In order to enhance credibility, it is also important that the

central bank's strategy for achieving the primary objective is clear and

that the link between the strategy and the central bank's policy actions is

easily understood by the public. By following a transparent approach, the

central bank can directly improve the efficiency of monetary policy. This

contributes to achieving stable prices with the lowest possible interest


Striving towards increased transparency led the Governing Council of

the ECB (composed of the Governors of the 11 national central banks and the

six members of the ECB's Executive Board) to establish a precise definition

of price stability in order to bring about absolute clarity as regards the

primary objective; price stability was defined as a year-on-year increase

of the Harmonised Index of Consumer Prices (HICP) for the euro area of

below 2%. This is a medium-term objective. In the short run, many factors

beyond the scope of monetary policy also affect the price movements.

The adoption of the Eurosystem's monetary policy strategy also aimed

at enhancing transparency in the implementation of monetary policy. The

strategy is based on two key elements: First, money has been assigned a

prominent role in the form of a reference value for the growth of the euro

area wide monetary aggregate M3. Second, the Eurosystem carries out a

broadly based assessment of the outlook for price developments and the

risks to price stability in the euro area on the basis of a wide range of

economic and financial indicators.

In order to explain to the public the Eurosystem's policy actions

against the background of the adopted monetary policy strategy, the

Eurosystem uses several channels: the ECB's Monthly Bulletin; the issuance

of a detailed press release after each Governing Council meeting, in which

the decisions are explained; the organisation of a monthly press conference

at the ECB; the appearances of the President at the European Parliament;

and, finally, the numerous speeches and articles by the members of the

Governing Council. Taken as a whole, the Eurosystem is probably among the

more active central banks when it comes to explaining its policies to the

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