Saturday 3 March 2012

EUCO: Fiscal compact TSCG

The fiscal compact, officially the Treaty on stability, coordination and governance in the economic and monetary union (TSCG), was signed yesterday by 25 of the 27 governments of the EU member states. Only the Czech Republic and the United Kingdom chose to exclude themselves at this stage.

The TSCG text is available in the 22 authentic treaty languages (Bulgarian, Danish, Dutch, English, Estonian, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hungarian, Irish, Italian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Maltese, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Slovak, Slovenian, Spanish and Swedish).

A common concern

The recital reminds us of the obligation of all member states of the European Union to regard their economic policies as a matter of common concern. This obligation was introduced by the Maastricht Treaty, which was signed twenty years ago.

Recently, the failure of the states to adhere to and to enforce this obligation has turned it into a grave concern, common to all EU citizens (and beyond).

The TSCG still builds on the principle of national economic policies, which need to be coordinated intergovernmentally, although it purports to shrink the straitjacket.

Treaty law and enhanced cooperation

The aim of the signatories is to incorporate the substance of the TSCG into the legal framework
of the European Union within five years (Article 16). According to Article 10, enhanced cooperation is seen as an option.

This intergovernmental treaty, close to but outside the institutional framework of the European Union, went through six different drafts, which were not officially made public. However, the draft texts were leaked to selected media. Even if selective leaks violate the principle of equality between EU citizens, openness was served.


According to Article 14(2) and (3), the TSCG needs to be ratified by at least twelve euro area member states to enter into force among them.

The meaning is twofold. The final number of ratifying states may be less than 25. For constitutional reasons Ireland is going to call yet another national referendum. Other countries may stumble when they try to transpose the changes into national law, although aid from the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) will become conditional upon the ratification of the TSCG.

On the other hand, a few dropouts won't spoil the party for the masochists.

Euro Summit

The provisions on governance (Euro Summit) apply to all parties from the original entry into force. See Article 14(4). The TSCG legalises the recent practice of euro summits, which have eclipsed the Eurogroup, which meets informally but is mentioned in an EU Treaty protocol.

Political alignment

For the non-euro countries, the TSCG is mainly a symbol of political alignment, since they undertake no concrete obligations, if they do not expressly undertake obligations. See Article 14(5). However, according to Article 12(3) they are granted limited participation rights in the Euro Summit.

The TSCG as a whole applies to the eurozone countries, although only a part of the provisions are real additions to the euro area acquis.

The signing of the TSCG took care of the ”austerity” part at the European Council 1-2 March 2012, so the main part of the EUCO meeting could – for a change – be devoted to economic growth, competitiveness and jobs.

Ralf Grahn
speaker on EU affairs, especially digital policy and law

P.S. Between the global issues and the national level, with a tenuous hold on democracy, the European Union institutions and the eurozone coteries shape our future. At the same time we see a European online public sphere emerging. Grahnlaw (recently ranked fourth among political blogs in Finland), Grahnblawg (in Swedish) and Eurooppaoikeus (in Finnish) are among the more than 900 euroblogs aggregated by multilingual Are you following the debates which matter for your future? Is your blog already listed on Bloggingportal?


  1. The Fiscal compact is nothing but a big bluff. Chancellor Merkels needs it to get the approval of the Bundestag for the ESM. Everbody in Brussels knows that the new rules are no more realistic than the old stability pact was. Just look at what is happening in Spain, the Netherlands, or even in Ireland...

  2. @Eric B

    For the non-euro countries the fiscal pact (TSCG) does not bring any specific obligations. For them the treaty is a question of political alignment.

    For the euro area, much of the TSCG is a rehash of rules already in existence.

    The TSCG embodies ideas the German government coalition has driven forward as a "stability union".

    While I doubt the real world usefulness of the TSCG, I would not go as far as calling it a big bluff.

    However, Europe needs fundamental reforms beyond the fiscal compact: democracy, accountability, eurobonds, a lender of last resort...


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