On 1 January 1999, upon the successful completion of substantial preparatory work, Stage Three of Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) started, and the European Central Bank (ECB) assumed responsibility for the single monetary policy in the euro area. This date marked the culmination of years of effort to create a durable framework for monetary stability in Europe and also represented an important milestone in the wider context of European economic and political integration.
…This publication is set out as follows: Chapter 1 summarises the institutional aspects most relevant for understanding the ECB’s monetary policy; Chapter 2 provides an overview of the main economic and financial structures of the euro area economy; Chapter 3 presents the monetary policy strategy of the ECB; Chapter 4 explains how monetary policy decisions are implemented using the available monetary policy instruments; and Chapter 5 illustrates how monetary policy was conducted in the first two years of Stage Three of EMU.
The institutional aspects of labour markets, such as job protection legislation, unemployment benefit systems, the wage formation process and the taxation of labour, among others, play a significant role in determining economic developments. For instance, structural rigidities in labour markets reduce the speed at which an economy adjusts to adverse shocks (e.g. sudden economic slowdowns). Structural rigidities are therefore typically associated with relatively high and persistent unemployment. Moreover, rigidities in the labour market and the resulting structural unemployment tend to limit the pace at which an economy can grow without fuelling inflationary pressures.