A European Mechanism for Sovereign Debt Crisis Resolution

Bruegel have released a proposal in relation to the resolution of future sovereign debt crises. (Since the mechanism does not yet exist and would require a Treaty change, it only relates to future debt issuance after its establishment – it has no implications for already-issued debt or any debt issues in the near future.) It has two elements:

1. A procedure to initiate and conduct negotiations between a sovereign debtor with unsustainable debt and its creditors leading to, and enforcing, an agreement on how to reduce the present value of the debtor’s future obligations in order to re-establish the sustainability of its public finances. This would require a special court to deal with such cases. The European Court of Justice is the natural institution for this purpose and a special chamber could be created within it for that purpose.

2. Rules for the provision of financial assistance to euro-area countries as an element in resolving the crisis. Should a euro-area country be found insolvent, the provision of financial aid should be conditional on the achievement of an agreement between the debtor and the creditors reestablishing solvency. The task of supplying financial assistance could be given to the EFSF provided that it is made permanent and an institution of the European Union. Lending by the permanent EFSF could also be provided, under appropriate conditions, to euro area countries facing temporary liquidity problems, as currently foreseen by the temporary EFSF.