Heading into 2014, financial markets are quiet and Europe’s politicians are relieved, but the fundamental problems that have driven the euro crisis for the last four years remain, and now is the time to address them. That is the claim of two important recent papers, one by a bipartisan group of German economists, lawyers, and political scientists called the Glienicker Gruppe, and the other by Ashoka Mody, a former International Monetary Fund official who is now at Princeton University and the European think tank Bruegel.
Aside from the need to act, however, the authors agree on little else. The German group argues that the eurozone’s survival requires a political union equipped with a common budget. Mody says that European Union’s federalist plans have been disappointed for five decades, and that the only way forward is to abandon efforts to fine-tune national policies set in Brussels and instead pursue a decentralized union.
Their shared premise is correct: complacency about the euro crisis is misguided, the fixes adopted so far do not go far enough to ensure lasting stability, and the current respite should be used to design the bloc’s permanent architecture. Furthermore, the advent of a bipartisan government coalition in Germany, together with the appointment of a new European administration following the European Parliament election in May, creates a window for new thinking.