I am very happy to be here today and mark the start of what will surely be a very interesting academic year for you. During this year, you will study the European institutional architecture from many different angles. And I hope that after completing your studies, many of you will go on to work on the European project and bring it closer to completion.
Over the past decade and a half, the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) in Europe has been tested by a number of severe shocks: the global financial crisis, the sovereign debt crisis, the COVID-19 pandemic and the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine. As you will soon learn, each of these shocks has exposed shortcomings in the construction of the EMU. In response to these shortcomings, the European economic and financial architecture has undergone profound changes, resulting in a more integrated area. Nevertheless, the EMU still remains incomplete.
Looking ahead, the environment might be fundamentally different from the pre-pandemic one. The European economies may be subject to more frequent supply-side shocks, due to geopolitical tensions, climate change-related events or future pandemics. Making the EMU more resilient to shocks, investing in green and digital transitions and improving the growth potential of the European economies require large public (and private) investments. These investment needs arise at a time when public debt and structural deficit levels in many EMU countries are high. Financial fragilities may also have been building up during the prolonged period of low interest rates before the COVID-19 pandemic, and digitalisation has made bank runs faster.