WASHINGTON, April 19 (Reuters) - Time is running out for deepening the integration of the euro zone, European Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs Pierre Moscovici said on Thursday.
The 19 countries sharing the euro are debating how to connect their economies more closely to reap the benefits of scale and better face any future economic crisis after Britain leaves the EU at the end of March 2019.
Among the ideas under discussion are the creation of a Europe-wide bank deposit guarantee scheme, transforming the euro zone bailout fund into a European Monetary Fund and a pool of money to help euro zone governments weather troubles not of their own making.
All of these ideas are controversial.
“We are some way from reaching a consensus on the priorities and method for moving the euro area forward, and time is running out,” Moscovici said in a speech at the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington.
“If the June Euro Summit fails to take the necessary decisions, I fear the momentum will be lost,” he said, referring to a meeting of euro zone leaders that is to give political direction to further work on euro zone changes.
Agreement on key euro reforms will be more difficult as time passes because after the summer holidays in Europe many policy-makers are likely to be side-tracked by the election campaign to the European Parliament and the selection of a new European Commission, a new chairman of EU summits and a new head of the European Central Bank. (Reporting By Jan Strupczewski Editing by Shri Navaratnam)