Columbia International Affairs Online: Policy Briefs

CIAO DATE: 06/2014

Is the EMU ready for future shocks? An overview of available backstops

Xavier Vanden Bosch

March 2014

EGMONT – The Royal Institute for International Relations


In recent years much has been accomplished to make the EMU more resilient to banking crises, sovereign-debt crises or balance-of-payment crises. Several ‘backstops’ or financial safety nets were progressively put in place to absorb the shocks that could have otherwise broken the EMU as a system. These substantial advances reflected a gradual, trial-and-error approach rather than a grand design that would have completely overhauled the EMU architecture. While flexibility and realism have advantages, complacency is a clear risk. With no roadmap to follow, efforts to complete the architecture of the EMU may fade with time. Maintaining a sense of direction is crucial while potential vulnerabilities remain.