The process of European monetary integration : a comparison of the Belgian and Italian approaches
This paper analyses and compares the roles which Belgium and Italy have played in the process of European monetary integration. It discusses Belgian and Italian attitudes towards European integration and EMU, exchange rate policies, key concepts of the Belgian and Italian EMU strategies and the concrete contributions made by Belgium and Italy. Overall, these two countries played an important and pace-setting role in the process of European monetary integration. They developed several creative and diplomatic proposals. Moreover, Belgian and Italian policy-makers often acted as "policy entrepreneurs" and proved to be skilful negotiators. The main difference is that Belgium has been a constant and consistent "pace-setter" in monetary matters, from the preparation of the Hague Summit to the elaboration of the EMS, the monetary chapter in the Single European Act and the realisation of EMU, whereas Italy was mainly active in the 1980s. This assessment of the Belgian and Italian contributions does not challenge the decisive impact of the Franco-German axis, but illustrates that EMU was a multilateral process. Furthermore, the paper shows how important it was for a country to achieve a sound economic performance, especially a stable exchange rate, in order to have influence on the European monetary scene.
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