By Jan Strupczewski
BRUSSELS, Oct 18 (Reuters) - European Union leaders are to
agree on Friday on a calendar until the middle of 2019 detailing
when to tackle various changes to the bloc, including deeper
euro zone integration, to strengthen the EU after Britain
The calendar, called the "Leaders' Agenda" sets out a
timetable for discussions on migration, defence, the next seven-
year budget, European parliament composition, trade, top EU jobs
and deepening the economic and monetary union.
The discussions are inspired by French President Emmanuel
Macron, who last month offered an ambitious vision for European
renewal as a counterweight to the negative impact of Britain's
exit from the EU in 2019, officials said.
Macron's ideas, however, put strong emphasis on the further
development of the euro zone, now encompassing 19 countries,
which some officials say creates the risk of alienating the EU's
eight remaining members.
"The trick is how to use Macron and his energy without
deepening divisions, but rather to push forward the whole flock
of 27," one senior official said.
According to the leaders' calendar, they will kick off the
discussion on the reform of the euro zone and completing their
banking union at a euro summit in the middle of December.
Among the main ideas for a deeper integration of the single
currency area are a separate euro zone budget, managed by a euro
zone finance minister who would be responsible before a euro
There are also ideas of transforming the euro zone bailout
fund into a European Monetary Fund, creating a euro zone
unemployment insurance scheme or a rainy day fund as well as
setting up a sovereign insolvency mechanism.
The calendar sets the summit on June 28-29 next year as the
time when concrete decisions on such reforms must be taken.
To complete the banking union, leaders need to agree that
the euro zone bailout fund is the financial backstop for the
euro zone's single resolution fund for banks, in case it runs
out of money. This could be agreed already in December,
But the key element still mission from the banking union --
a pan-European scheme to protect deposits -- is likely to be
more difficult because Germany is strongly against it, fearing
its banking system might be called upon to pay off depositors of
failing banks in other euro zone countries.
The calendar sets March 21-22 in 2019, a week before Britain
leaves the EU, as the time when leaders should take any further
decisions on euro zone reform.
(Reporting by Jan Strupczewski; Editing by Alison Williams)
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