U.S.-European Monetary Relations

By Samuel I. Katz; American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research, Georgetown University | Go to book overview

INTRODUCTION AND SUMMARY
OF OPTICA PROPOSALS

Niels Thygesen

The latest several steps in the economic integration of the European Community have not been in a forward direction. Europe of the 1960s presents in retrospect a picture of stability and slowly progressing integration. It is ironic that the optimism that these experiences generated at the political level found expression only at the very end of the decade --at the Hague summit in December 1969--just before irresistible centrifugal forces began to eat away at its foundations. From the Hague summit and the elaboration of the concept of economic and monetary union in the so-called Werner plan of 1970 there is a remarkable descent to the present level of what is thought feasible. A few points will suffice to illustrate the main trend in economic policy coordination.

The major decisions of the Council of Ministers in March 1971 and March 1972 to establish firmer rules for exchange market interventions did not stick. The pound sterling and the lira have been floating individually and with increasingly dramatic movements since June 1972 and March 1973 respectively and the French franc since January 1974 (with an interruption during part of 1975-1976). The remaining snake

____________________
Note: Towards Economic Equilibrium and Monetary Unification in Europe (Optica 1975) and Inflation and Exchange Rates: Evidence and Policy Guidelines for the European Community (Optica 1976) were published by the Directorate General for Economic and Financial Affairs of the Commission of the EC in January 1976 and February 1977 respectively. The reports were prepared by a group of independent economists consisting of Giorgio Basevi ( Bologna), who acted as our chairman throughout; Emil-Maria Claassen ( Giessen and Paris) during Optica 1975; Paul de Grauwe ( Leuven) during Optica 1976; Pascal Salin ( Paris); Hans-Eckhardt Scharrer ( Hamburg) during Optica 1976; and Niels Thygesen ( Copenhagen). The opinions expressed in the reports remain the sole responsibility of the group and not of the commission and its services. The work of the group was greatly assisted by Hermann Burgard and Francis Woehrling during Optica 1975 and by Michele Fratianni and Horst Schulmann during Optica 1976. I am also grateful for critical comments made at the Washington conference, in particular by Bela Balassa, Stephen Marris, Conrad Oort, and Roland Vaubel. The responsibility for any errors and obscurities in the present introduction and summary rests solely with the present author. The paper was revised in June 1977, but has not been updated to take into account developments in 1978, notably the adoption of the European Monetary System.

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