Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) represents a major step in the integration of EU economies. It involves the coordination of economic and fiscal policies, a common monetary policy, and a common currency, the euro. Whilst all 27 EU Member States take part in the economic union, some countries have taken integration further and adopted the euro. Together, these countries make up the euro area.
The decision to form an Economic and Monetary Union was taken by the European Council in the Dutch city of Maastricht in December 1991, and was later enshrined in the Treaty on European Union (the Maastricht Treaty). Economic and Monetary Union takes the EU one step further in its process of economic integration, which started in 1957 when it was founded. Economic integration brings the benefits of greater size, internal efficiency and robustness to the EU economy as a whole and to the economies of the individual Member States. This, in turn, offers opportunities for economic stability, higher growth and more employment – outcomes of direct benefit to EU citizens. In practical terms, EMU means:
- Coordination of economic policy-making between Member States
- Coordination of fiscal policies, notably through limits on government debt and deficit
- An independent monetary policy run by the European Central Bank (ECB)
- The single currency and the euro area