OeNB-SUERF conference explores the first and the next 20 years of European Economic and Monetary Union

(, Vienna)

46th OeNB Economics Conference in cooperation with SUERF, May 2 and 3, 2019

January 1, 1999, marked the debut of the euro – 20 years after its introduction, European Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) takes center stage in this year’s Economics Conference, which was organized jointly by the Oesterreichische Nationalbank (OeNB) and SUERF – The European Money and Finance Forum. High-level representatives from the world of academia, finance and politics discuss how EMU has helped overcome the global financial crisis and its aftermath and which steps still need to be taken to fully complete this historical project.

The euro has become the most tangible result of the European unification process. Today, some 340 million European citizens use the common currency day in, day out. The number of countries using the euro has grown too: Since 1999, euro area membership has increased to 19 countries from the original 11. At the opening of the conference, OeNB Governor Ewald Nowotny remarked that European citizens’ support for the euro has recently reached its highest level on record, with euro approval ratings peaking at nearly 74%. According to Nowotny, this testifies to the success of the joint efforts made by the European Central Bank (ECB), the OeNB and the other 18 euro area national central banks „to maintain stable prices and thus create an environment conducive to economic growth and high employment in the euro area.“

Following the onset of the severe financial and economic crisis in 2008, the design of EMU was repeatedly met with criticism. Yet, Governor Nowotny recalled that, prior to the launch of the euro, Europe had – time and again – experienced currency crises and economic tensions among European countries. The euro was the answer to these challenges and a prerequisite for ensuring the smooth functioning of the EU’s Single Market. Because of its international importance, the common currency furthermore allows the EU to protect its interests and help bring stability to the global economy.

To make sure that the euro will continue to fulfill its key role within the EU, further reforms are needed in the future, Governor Nowotny stressed. Structural and fiscal policies, banking supervision and financial stability policy therefore play a prominent role on the agenda of this year’s Economics Conference, as do the challenges posed by digitalization. Nowotny concluded by saying that “the best way to celebrate the first 20 years of the euro is to debate together how our European house can be adapted, enlarged and refurbished to keep it ready for the next 20 years.”