The creation of the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) and the euro ten years ago was a leap forward in the process of European integration, according to a recently launched policy brief, introduced at a Distinguished Lecture by Klaus Regling, EU Fellow at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy and Senior Adviser to the European Commission. The event drew a capacity crowd. Prof Kishore Mahbubahni, Dean of Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, chaired the session. The policy brief reviewed the achievements of the first decade of the euro and the challenges ahead. It outlined out the various stages in implementing the EMU: from freeing movement of capital, to establishing a Central Bank, to economic convergence, fixing the exchange rate and launching the euro. The euro and the EMU have enjoyed a successful decade, buoyed by relatively benign conditions in the world economy, particularly in increasing trade flow, financial and product market integration, generating macroeconomic stability and growing status as an international currency. With the onset of the international financial crisis however, the euro-zone faced the first major test and challenge. The crisis exposed existing imbalances within the area and raised the stakes for economic coordination. Nonetheless, the EMU provided important protection and mitigated the effects of the crisis on vulnerable member states. The experience of the past decade offered lessons for economic integration in Asia, particularly in creating reserve and exchange rate arrangements. The brief noted that Asia existed in a different geopolitical context compared with the EU, but that a regional forum would probably still need to be a pre-condition for currency reserve and monetary cooperation, alongside political will, effective surveillance and clear procedures.
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