Current Legal Issues Affecting Central Banks, Volume III.

5A. Economic Policy Coordination and the Freedom to Effect Financial Transactions in the European Community

Robert Effros
Published Date:
August 1995
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This paper addresses first the position of the Treaty on European Union (or the Maastricht Treaty), following an initial referendum in Denmark that rejected the Treaty by a narrow majority; second, the legal structure of the European Community; third, the history of monetary cooperation in the European Community; fourth, the outline of the Maastricht Treaty; fifth, the various stages within which economic and monetary union in Europe is to be established; and finally, economic policy coordination and the freedom to effect financial transactions.

The Danish Problem

The Maastricht Treaty1 is, in part, a review of the original treaty establishing the European Economic Community, the Treaty of Rome.2 Hence, it had to be ratified by the 12 member states. Under Danish constitutional procedures, the Parliament decided that a referendum had to be held.3 Initially, the majority, although it was a very slight majority, of the Danish population declined to have Denmark enter the European Community. In response, the other 11 member states reaffirmed their intention to go ahead with the ratification of the Maastricht Treaty and then waited until additional ratifications had been achieved before deciding what to do about Denmark’s initial rejection of the Treaty on European Union.

Some commentators in Europe remarked that what happened in Denmark is similar to what seems to be happening in the United States: a kind of disenchantment of the general public with politicians at large. Many Danish voters said that they mistrusted politicians and what they had constructed in Maastricht. Perhaps, this is proof of a more general trend in Western democracies. After the Edinburgh European Council meeting of December 1992 adopted several statements on Denmark and the European Community, the Treaty was approved by both the Danish people and their Parliament.4

Institutions of the European Community

There are three Communities: the European Coal and Steel Community, the European Atomic Energy Community, and the main community, the European Community (EC), formerly known as the European Economic Community (EEC). The several Communities were established by international treaty; the main EC Treaty, which established the EEC, was signed in Rome in 1957.5 The European Community is an international legal person, created by 6 founding members, to which other states acceded later, so as to increase the membership to 12. It is governed by institutions that have their own specific competencies.

The EC institutions are the European Parliament, the Council, the European Commission, and the European Court of Justice, which ensures that the rule of law is applied.6 There is also the European Council, which is not an institution of the Community but the term for the summit meeting of the heads of state and the President of the European Commission, which is held twice a year. It is the main political body of the European Community (see Article D of the Treaty on European Union). In legal terms, the EC institutions are only the four indicated previously.

The main body, as far as lawmaking is concerned, is the Council of Ministers, where representatives of the 12 member states discuss and agree on policy measures and law. But the Council can act only after the Commission, which is the executive of the European Community, has put forward a proposal, and it is the Commission that is responsible before the European Parliament. Some laws that have to be decided upon by the Council also need the assent of the European Parliament, and many others need at least two readings in the Parliament.

The EC was set up to establish among its member states a common market (economic integration) and to provide for the coordination of economic policies among member states. The first element, the common market, has been the most successful one; the second, the coordination of economic policies, has remained more or less a dead letter, but that is going to change under the provisions for economic and monetary union.

The EC structure provides for lawmaking and regulation at the Community level, in those restricted areas where the Community is competent to act. It is these institutions that establish the law in Europe. Thus, the EC is a supranational organization, with review by the European Court of Justice of the procedures and rules that are enshrined in the Treaty.

History of Monetary Cooperation in the European Community

Why did the drafters not include sections on monetary cooperation in 1957 when the original EC Treaty was drafted? In part, because after World War II, the International Monetary Fund provided for exchange rate stability, so that the drafters simply did not need to provide for monetary cooperation. The system of Bretton Woods was functioning well, leaving no need for another regional arrangement to be superimposed. However, after 1971, with the collapse of the Bretton Woods system, all that changed, and the Europeans had to sort out among themselves what to do about the disarray in the foreign markets and its impact upon the common market, which was still being established.

Patterned after an initial arrangement set up in 1972, which is referred to as “the snake,” the European Monetary System (EMS) was created in 1979.7 The EMS is, legally speaking, unusual. It is based on a hodgepodge of various legal instruments. Some of them are actually treaty law, that is, provisions of the EC Treaty; one is a resolution adopted by the Heads of State or Government; and still other instruments take the form of arrangements by the central banks.8

The EMS provides for exchange rate stability through an exchange rate mechanism (ERM), under which the currencies of the member states that participate (not all member states have always participated) are kept within narrow fluctuation bands. Though temporarily widened to 15 percent in July 1993,9 the main band is a 2.25 percent fluctuation band from which currencies cannot deviate.

The EMS also introduced the European currency unit (ECU). In a nutshell, the ECU is a basket of currencies that is used within the exchange rate mechanism and that was issued by the European Fund for Monetary Cooperation (EFMC). The EFMC was the predecessor to the European Monetary Institute, which came into being on January 1, 1994. The ECU is a forerunner of the single currency that is to be adopted once monetary union is completed.

The EMS has induced a large measure of policy convergence within the common market. However, it was considered to be a somewhat voluntary arrangement and not stable as a legal institution. When it was established in 1979, there was agreement that it should evolve later into something more permanent.

Two committee reports have considered how to make monetary arrangements in the European Community more permanent. The first, which is largely of historical value, was named after its chairman, Pierre Werner, then Luxembourg’s Minister of Finance, and was undertaken in the early 1970s.10 The second led to the Maastricht Treaty and is named after Jacques Delors, the former President of the European Commission. Delors headed a group of central bank governors and some outside experts who presented a report setting out the various steps that, in their view, had to be taken in order to establish economic and monetary union in Europe.11 One of the proposals that they presented to the politicians was for economic and monetary union to be enshrined in the Treaty of Rome. Hence, negotiations started, which took the entire year of 1991 and which resulted in a new treaty signed at Maastricht, the Netherlands.

Maastricht Treaty: An Outline

When setting out the structure of the Maastricht Treaty, it is important to go briefly into the discussions that took place in the European Community on how best to further European cooperation. On the legal structuring of the EC, two views were taken. The first view held that the EC should grow organically like a tree. One can imagine that there is a Community, being a legal entity with certain tasks attributed to it, and that it may expand like a tree whose branches continue to grow. It can also be understood that, in this context of extending EC competencies, certain new areas of policy are temporarily subject to rules other than those applied from the beginning.

An illustration may be helpful. When it was agreed to include in the Treaty competencies for “Europe” (such as the establishment of a common foreign policy and various kinds of cooperation in the areas of home affairs and justice), it was considered premature to undertake this under the same procedures and the same rule-making that had applied in economic affairs from the beginning of the European Community. Hence, the idea arose of introducing into the Treaty new competencies but subjecting them temporarily to different rules—that is, the concept of the “tree.” In accordance with this concept, if there is one Treaty with several branches representing different competencies, then the Treaty must be ratified under the original rules of the Treaty of Rome by all 12 member states. The result would be a single institutional framework with different sets of rules for the different areas of cooperation. However, that was not the structure of the Treaty that was ultimately agreed.

The structure of the integration process that prevailed at Maastricht may be represented symbolically by a “temple” resting on three pillars.12 In essence, it implies that the European Community as it was be continued and that economic integration should remain the main pillar of European cooperation. However, for two new areas of competency—foreign and security policy and justice and home affairs—it was considered necessary to have separate articles to ensure a more intergovernmental form of cooperation. In these two areas of competency, there is to be more multilateral consultations, coordination, and decision-making, instead of supranational policy and rule-making, as is the case with the central pillar, the EC. These three pillars together (economic integration, foreign and security policy, and justice and home affairs) are called the European Union.13 While “European Union” may be viewed as a beautiful frieze above these three pillars, it does not mean that a new legal entity, a new international legal person, came into existence. It is just the common name of the three pillars that was agreed at Maastricht.

The Maastricht Treaty consists of a number of articles that set out the establishment of the European Union.14 Article G contains the amendments to the original EC Treaty.15 Some new elements have been introduced, including more involvement by the European Parliament in certain areas of decision-making and a rule that member states that do not follow EC law can be made subject to pecuniary charges by the European Court. Fines can be imposed for not abiding by obligations under the Court’s interpretation of EC law. Furthermore, the European Union is given certain new roles—for instance, concerning industry, development cooperation, consumer protection, and culture. Nevertheless, the most important element to note is that concerning the provisions for the central pillar (Article G)—the changes to the EC Treaty concerning economic and monetary union.

The Maastricht Treaty also firmly embeds the main pillar that was created on the basis of the 1957 Treaty of Rome in the new Union structure. The provisions for amendment of the EC Treaty and of accession to the Community have been taken out of the EC Treaty and given their place in the final articles,16 thus making for a firm intertwinement of all three pillars. If, in the future, there are any changes to be made to the European Community’s rules, these changes would have to be made by changing the Treaty on European Union. They could not simply be made by amending the original EC Treaty. Thus, as additional countries apply for EC membership, they will find that, following ratification of the Maastricht Treaty, they will have to apply to enter the entire temple (the EU); they will not be able to enter the central pillar only (the EC).

The two other pillars are set out in Articles J and K of the Maastricht Treaty. Article J concerns Common Foreign and Security Policy. It comprises elements of external relations that are political rather than economic.17 Trade negotiations still fall under the central pillar (the EC’s competency). Article K provides for cooperation in the area of internal affairs and judicial matters—for instance, the prevention and prosecution of criminal activities and the entry of third-country nationals.18

The final provisions of the Maastricht Treaty restrict the ambit of judicial control to the EC proper. Control by the courts over what was being done in the area of economic integration has always been a major and innovative feature of the EC. This judicial review will now continue to be exercised in the central pillar only. There will be no judicial review at the Union level of government decisions taken concerning war and peace (CSFP) or activities that may affect human rights (justice and home affairs). The common policies to be decided by the Government of the Twelve may be subject to judicial review only to the extent that decisions taken by an individual state in pursuance thereof can be challenged within that state. No common judicial protection at the European level has been provided for in the Maastricht Treaty. This may be one of the major defects of the Treaty, particularly from a constitutional point of view.

Stages of Economic and Monetary Union

The Delors Committee was entrusted with the task of setting out the various steps to be taken in order to establish economic and monetary union. It proposed to approach monetary union in three stages.19

The first stage provided only for intensification of the cooperation previously entertained in the monetary field (among central banks) and in the area of economic policy convergence (among governments of the member states). The second stage required Treaty amendments. According to the Treaty, this stage began on January 1, 1994. It is actually a preparatory stage for the final stage in which the Treaty provides for a single monetary policy and a European Central Bank (ECB). Together with the existing national central banks, the ECB will conduct monetary policy and will provide for the introduction of a single currency. This third stage will start, at the earliest, at the beginning of 1997 and at the latest at the beginning of 1999. It is in this way that the Treaty provides for a three-step procedure toward economic and monetary union to be completed during this century.

The first stage of monetary integration began on the same day that most member states were required to implement fully the freedom of capital movements: July 1, 1990.20 The second stage was to begin automatically. The transition from the first stage to the second stage was smooth since there were no conditions attached to this transition. However, for the transition to the third stage, which implies far-reaching consequences of a single currency and a single monetary policy, there are strict conditions in the Treaty.21 First of all, there are conditions for the EC itself to enter into that stage and, second, for the individual member states to be allowed into the currency union. Hence, it is most likely that not all 12 member states will enter economic and monetary union on the same date. During the discussions and negotiations leading up to Maastricht, the United Kingdom and Denmark had severe doubts about the project, and they made sure that derogation clauses applicable to them only were included in the Treaty.

The transition to the third stage, for each individual member state, is made contingent upon several convergence criteria. The first is a legal admission criterion rather than an economic convergence criterion. It is the criterion that stipulates that all legislation in the relevant member state must comply with the Maastricht Treaty.22 That means that the central banking laws of all member states must be suitably amended in time for transition to stage three. Even the Bundeshankgesetz of Germany,23 the central banking law after which the European Central Bank was largely modeled, will have to be amended in order to conform fully with the requirements of the Maastricht Treaty.

Apart from this legal admission requirement, the major conditions to be met concern economic policy. It has been agreed that the EC will decide whether an individual member state has a level of price stability that is adequate for entry into stage three,24 whether it will avoid having large government deficits,25 and whether it has maintained its currency within the EMS’s exchange rate mechanism (specifically, within the narrow 2.25 percent fluctuation band).26 Finally, for a member state to be admitted, its monetary and financial stability must be reflected in a convergence of long-term interest rates with those of the best-performing member states.27

These convergence criteria have been set out in the Treaty in order to ensure that monetary policy will have a good start and will not have to be based upon divergent or inflationary economic conditions in the member states that enter the third stage. It is probable that not all member states will have a low inflation rate, will have avoided government deficits, and will have a currency that participates in the EMS’s narrow margin of fluctuation. Therefore, it is unlikely that all 12 will enter the third stage at the same time. This reflection is the basis of an apocryphal story about the role that the convergence criteria played in the negotiations. When the discussions were being held in Maastricht, a journalist asked a cautious member of one of the delegations how everything was going, and he said,

Well, if you look at all the convergence criteria, and if you see that France is the only Member State to comply with them, apart from Luxembourg, which does not have its own currency to begin with, we think we are satisfied about the progress of economic and monetary union because there will not be economic and monetary union apart, perhaps, from one between France and Luxembourg.28

Freedom to Effect Financial Transactions

The main features of stage two of economic and monetary union are financial freedoms and economic policy coordination. Traditionally, the EEC Treaty has made a distinction between capital movements and current payments. The IMF’s Articles of Agreement make a distinction between payments and transfers for current international transactions, concerning which member states may not impose restrictions without Fund approval,29 and capital movements, concerning which member states of the Fund may exercise controls.30 Under the EEC Treaty, current payments must be free of restrictions from the beginning of the common market, and capital movements were to be made free from restrictions later on through a decision of the Council.

From January 1, 1994, the beginning of the second stage of economic and monetary union, a single article of the EC Treaty requires freedom of all financial transactions, whether they be current payments or capital transfers. The European Community is the only jurisdiction in the world that states in its constitution that this financial freedom pertains not only internally among the 12 member states but also externally with third countries.31 It has been agreed that, in principle, and with some exceptions, there is freedom to effect transactions on a worldwide scale without any distinction between common market transactions among the 12 and those with the rest of the world. However, there are some minor derogations from this freedom: some restrictions that have been applied vis-à-vis third countries may be continued.32 These restrictions concern reciprocity measures that might be imposed in relations between the Community and a third country in the areas of banking, insurance, and securities trade. It is also possible to continue certain government measures to control infringements on national or Community law that take place through financial transactions.33 Furthermore, there remains the possibility of maintaining a certain measure of discrimination in tax areas, and, as a new feature in this chapter of the EC Treaty, a public security exemption is inserted into the paragraph on capital movements.34 Finally, there are possibilities for derogations for some of the member states that at present maintain derogations.35

If during the second and third stages of economic and monetary union severe financial disturbances occur, Article 73(f) may be invoked. Under it, the Council may impose certain measures of control over financial flows, but these powers are narrowly circumscribed.36 Finally, it is possible to impose both trade and financial sanctions at the Community level37; until now, trade sanctions have been dealt with at the Community level and financial sanctions at the national level. A single transaction may be subject to a Community prohibition where the trade side of the transaction is concerned. Its financial counterpart may be subject to a member state prohibition. This makes for very complicated rulemaking and double administrative procedures in cases of exemptions. More important, the varied forms of financial sanctions applied at the state level split up the common market and, through the diversity of prohibitions, may lead to loopholes in the implementation of UN-imposed embargoes.

Another feature of the second stage is that economic policy may be coordinated more efficiently than has been the case thus far.38 In 1957, when the European Economic Community was set up, there was agreement among the drafters of the Treaty that the establishment of a common market was apt under certain circumstances to undermine the effectiveness of governments’ economic policies. This is because a state’s economic policies relate to the jurisdiction of the government concerned, but their effects may attenuate when the economic boundaries of that state disappear. It can also be imagined that governments, when acting alone and in divergent ways, undermine each other’s economic policies in the common market. That was the reason why the requirement of coordinating economic policy was introduced in the Treaty, and it remains the primary reason for an intensification of that economic policy coordination.

Economic Policy Coordination

Contrary to the area of monetary policy for which a new institution will be created, no such need was perceived in the area of economic policy. It will be up to the Council of Ministers to coordinate the economic policies of the member states. Under Article 103 of the revised Treaty, member states are to consider their economic policies as a matter of common concern and coordinate them.39

The Treaty will contain a coordinating procedure that is currently set out in a Council Decision on economic convergence.40 It is a procedure for “multilateral surveillance,” a word that is reminiscent of Article IV of the IMF’s Articles of Agreement.41 It provides a kind of peer group pressure exercised within the Council of Ministers. Its purpose is to see that the economic policies of the member states converge and remain within the framework set by the Council. For this to operate smoothly, it has been agreed in the Treaty that the Commission, which is the EC executive, will make recommendations to the Council of Ministers, that the Council will have to establish a coordinated framework, and that the member states will have to comply. Should a state not abide, the Council may find it in default and issue a recommendation stating that the member state in question does not conform to the European Community agreement on economic policy. Such a recommendation is, in principle, confidential and can only be made public after an express decision of the Council. Publishing a recommendation thus amounts to a censure against the state in question.

Multilateral surveillance contrasts with the other procedure for economic policy coordination, the procedure to be applied to public spending. Here, the Community takes a major step forward by imposing upon governments the obligation to avoid excessive government deficits.42

Deficits have been defined in the Treaty in a separate protocol.43 The ratio of actual or planned government deficits to gross domestic product should be less than 3 percent, and the level of accumulated government debt should not exceed a maximum ratio of 60 percent of GDP.44 The observance of these criteria for budgetary discipline will be the subject of surveillance by the Council through a procedure that is stricter than the procedure on multilateral surveillance of economic convergence. The Council, after receiving reports from the Commission on the state of a member’s public spending, can issue recommendations to the member state concerned.45 Such recommendations are to remain confidential in the first instance;46 only as a second measure can they be made public.47 However, the effectiveness of a secret recommendation in the area of public spending is questionable because when parliaments vote on budget laws they usually do so in public. Public recommendations by the Council would probably have more effect.

Upon entering stage three, additional sanctions will be available. Whether they will be imposed remains to be seen, but they are provided for in the Treaty.48 The first sanction that the Council may impose is that a government that is incurring an excessive deficit must give additional information to investors when it issues bonds.49 This amounts to a kind of investor protection scheme that is implemented in addition to the normal stock exchange requirements. A second possibility is for the European Investment Bank to reconsider its lending policy vis-à-vis the state concerned.50 The third and fourth sanctions are the most interesting ones from a legal perspective. They concern the imposition of pecuniary measures.

A member state that is having an excessive public sector deficit and does not comply with a ruling of the Council can be required to make a non-interest-bearing deposit or face fines.51 While the European Court of Justice can impose fines for breaches of EC law, public spending scrutiny is the only area where a political organ, the Council of Ministers, is given the competence to fine member states.52

Another novelty in EC decision-making is that, in the excessive deficit procedure, the member state whose deficit is subject to review does not itself have the right to vote in the Council on any recommendations or sanctions with respect to itself.53 The exclusion of the state concerned is not a sanction. It should be standard practice that a member state should not vote upon the recommendation or the sanction when it is the subject of the proceeding.


In conclusion, the economic policy plank of economic and monetary union is completed by certain prohibitions added to the Treaty that are aimed at stable finances. The first one is a prohibition on monetary financing.54 Direct central bank financing of public authorities is prohibited. A second provision concerns the abolition of any privileges that governments might currently enjoy when seeking financing from the financial system.55 Finally, there is a clause that the member states and the Community should not bail out a member state that is having financial difficulties.56 The latter provision is intended to ensure that the financial markets impose rigor on a member state that is borrowing on the markets. It follows that financial institutions, companies, and private investors will know that there is no backup reserve available from the Community or from the partner states of a borrowing member state.


The foregoing considers the Maastricht Treaty on European Union and two elements of economic and monetary union, which this Treaty introduced, namely the freedom to effect financial transactions within the European Community and the coordination of economic policies in the EC. This contribution was made when the ratification of the Maastricht Treaty was subject of intense debate across Europe and before the currency market turmoil of 1992 and 1993.

Events since that time include the difficult ratification of the Treaty on European Union in France where a referendum following “Black Wednesday” in the EMS’s exchange rate mechanism narrowly approved ratification. The French Constitutional Council addressed the matter of the compatibility of the Treaty on European Union with the French Constitution in its decision of April 9, 1992.57 The Constitutional Council ruled that certain provisions of the Treaty were incompatible with the French Constitution. Consequently, the Treaty could not be ratified until the Constitution had been changed. This revision was effected by Loi Constitutionnelle No. 92–554 of June 25, 1992, which states that France agrees to the transfer of the necessary competencies for the establishment of economic and monetary union.58 In Germany, a ruling by the Constitutional Court cleared the way for that country to submit the final act of ratification.59 In the United Kingdom, there were protracted Parliamentary readings of the text. In Denmark, a new referendum was held on ratification of the Maastricht Treaty. Also, the temporary widening of fluctuation bands in the EMS (decided on August 2,1993) and the conclusion of a bilateral agreement between Germany and the Netherlands maintaining the previous 2.25 percent fluctuation bands on either side of the mark-guilder central rate should be mentioned.

When the Maastricht Treaty finally entered into force on November 1, 1993, the Council could adopt the necessary secondary legislation, notably implementing the prohibitions mentioned in the final section of the chapter (Articles 104 and 104a of the EC Treaty).60 It also could proceed with the multilateral surveillance of member states’ economic policies, resulting in the adoption of the first broad guidelines for these policies under Article 103 of the EC Treaty.61 The Council further adopted its first decisions with respect to the scrutiny of member states’ budget deficits, concluding that 10 of the states (then numbering 12) were running excessive deficits as defined under Article 104c of the EC Treaty and the appurtenant Protocol on Excessive Deficits.62 The recommendations were made public without a special decision, as Article 104c(8) of the EC Treaty requires.63

On January 1, 1994, the European Monetary Institute started functioning, taking over the tasks of the previous Committee of Governors of the Central Banks of the EC and the European Monetary Cooperation Fund (EMCF), preparing for the final stage of economic and monetary union and intensifying the coordination of monetary policy in the EC.64 The swap of one fifth of the U.S. dollar reserves and gold holdings of the national central banks with the EMCF are now continued with the EMI, which has become the issuer of ECUs. The EMI will also have to prepare for the introduction of ECUs as the single currency of stage three. The ECU will then no longer be a basket of currencies whose value is derived from those of its constituent parts but will become “a currency in its own right.”65 The currency composition of the present-day ECU was frozen as from November 1, 1993.66

In 1994, the ratification of the Act of Accession of Austria, Norway, Sweden, and Finland to the European Union failed to pass a popular referendum in Norway. Consequently, only Austria, Sweden, and Finland acceded to the Union on January 1, 1995. Shortly afterward, the Austrian currency joined the exchange rate mechanism of the EMS, which saw its first realignment since the August 1993 widening of fluctuation bands around the preexisting central rates when the Spanish peseta and the Portuguese escudo were devalued in early 1995.

The financial liberalization effected by the 1988 Capital Liberalization Directive,67 which required abolition of any remaining exchange restrictions in 8 of the (then 12) states by July 1, 1990, the date on which stage one of economic and monetary union started, was completed on January 1, 1994, when stage two started and Articles 73b–73g of the EC Treaty came into effect. Thus, the Treaty stipulates with direct effect that financial transactions both within the Community and with third countries are to go unhindered (with the exceptions and qualifications mentioned in the section on “Freedom to Effect Financial Transactions”). Greece, too, has abandoned the remaining restrictions that it was allowed to maintain under Article 73 e. The financial sanctions against third countries have largely continued to be based on preexisting national measures, in spite of the exclusive competence in the matter for the Community under Article 73g. The member states have been reluctant to see the Council exercise this competence; only the new sanctions against the Bosnian Serbs (introduced by the UN Security Council in the fall of 1994) have resulted in an integrated Council Regulation imposing both a trade and financial boycott.68

In 1996, another Intergovernmental Conference (IGC) will be held. (In 1991, IGCs on economic and monetary union and on political union resulted in the Maastricht Treaty on European Union.) Article N(2) of the Maastricht Treaty provides for this revision conference at which the results of “Maastricht” will need to be evaluated and further steps toward European integration agreed. The debate on the extent of further amendments to the European constitution is currently under way. Some plead for a federal Europe with a strong economic policy executive and an enhanced role for the European Parliament. Others support piecemeal amendments respecting the pillar structure of the Union to allow it to take in the countries of Eastern Europe, Cyprus, and Malta by the year 2000. Although the provisions for economic and monetary union as such are not up for revision, the effect that major “political” changes will have on the establishment of economic and monetary union will make this conference important. Also, it may be expected that the continuing calls for stronger economic policy coordination and political union to precede the introduction of a single currency, foreseen for 1999 under Article 109j(4) of the EC Treaty, will make the IGC of 1996 important for the achievement of monetary union in Europe.

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