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A Eurozone Committee in the European Parliament: Sense or Nonsense?

Stijn Verhelst

Creating a eurozone specific committee inside the European Parliament is one of the few concrete ideas to strengthen the legitimacy of the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU). Such a committee would essentially deal with issues that are specific to the eurozone, and would be composed of MEPs from a subset of EU Member States only. This paper examines the idea of creating a eurozone committee and offers an evaluation of its pertinence following the 2014 European elections. The paper is based on relevant academic literature, official documents and interviews with stakeholders.In a first part, the paper discusses the history of the idea and its underlying motivation. In addition, the design possibilities of the committee are analysed, taking into consideration the legal limits provided by the present European Treaties. In the second part of the paper, the added value of a eurozone committee is assessed. In terms of the Parliament's legislative work (i.e. adopting legislation), the paper argues that a eurozone committee has limited value. A legislative committee would differ very little from the normal European Parliament, as all Member States with an obligation to join the eurozone would most likely participate (hence excluding potentially only Denmark and the UK).With regard to eurozone economic governance (centred on the annual European semester), a specific committee might-in contrast-be of benefit. The added value would depend heavily on the role that the European Parliament plays in future economic governance. Given the Parliament's current humble role in the field, a eurozone committee would make little sense. Yet, on condition of specific changes to the EMU, a eurozone committee can be a step in the direction of a better functioning currency union.The paper concludes with a set of recommendations for the 2014-2019 legislative period and for potential future research.

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