Economic and Monetary Union

The Finnish financial sector is strongly in support of Finland’s EMU membership, the single currency, and the Banking Union. They all help build a stable operating environment for Finnish business and also support economic growth and welfare. Finland must stay at the heart of the EMU. We are in favour of increasing the use of market discipline as a tool to steer the economic policies of EMU Member States as well as to underline the countries’ own responsibility for their finances.

The Finnish financial sector supports the increased integration of capital markets at both EU and EMU level. The integration should be primarily achieved by removing obstacles, not by creating new regulation. A market-based approach is also advisable ‒ public authorities should not decide how or where capital is allocated.

EMU, at is current scope, has neither the need nor capacity for developing into a fiscal union. Introducing stability bonds (“Eurobonds”) would be a substantial shared risk with a high possibility of moral hazard. What this means is that countries might be tempted to mismanage their finances or banking sectors when the resulting burden and difficulties would not fall on their own shoulders alone. So far no workable solution has been presented for the moral hazard problem, which makes stability bonds an unrealistic option. In addition, issues on individual countries’ competitiveness and over-indebtedness need to be solved in a sustainable manner before even considering the introduction of stability bonds.

Common budgets or other macroeconomic stabilisation functions should only be considered between countries that are similar in terms of income level, labour market and the functioning of other markets. Otherwise the common budget will only become one more support system that repeatedly funnels money for the needs of a few countries. In the present situation, the prerequisites for setting up macroeconomic stabilisation functions are weak.

This debate is also connected to the development of social inclusion in the EMU. Related issues concern, for example, pensions and the harmonization of labour and social policies. For the Finnish employee pension system, it is highly important that decisions on Finns’ statutory pensions are made on the national level, also in the future.

The harmonisation of tax systems is supportable in principle, but it must not hinder tax competition between countries. Tax competition helps maintain a reasonable tax burden and thus also curbs the growth of public expenditure.


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Financial and Prudential Regulation

Veli-Matti Mattila

Director, Chief Economist