The report outlines a plan to deepen Economic and Monetary Union (EMU).
It concludes that the foundations of EMU need to be strengthened to ensure a smooth functioning of the currency union and to allow the member states to be better prepared for adjusting to global challenges. This should enable all member states to benefit fully from their participation in the single currency.
The path towards a more resilient and complete EMU should be open and transparent to all EU member states. The report emphasises the need to preserve the integrity of the single market, which should be completed and fully exploited.
The report calls for action on several fronts, to be implemented in stages.
During the first stage, starting in July 2015, the EMU should be made more resilient by building on existing instruments and making the best possible use of the existing Treaties, in other words 'deepening by doing'.
During the second stage the achievements of the first stage would be consolidated and more far-reaching measures could - under certain conditions - be agreed to complete the EMU's economic and institutional architecture.
The aim is to reach the final stage - a deep and genuine EMU - by 2025.
The report advocates progress on four fronts:
17 June 2016: the Economic and Financial Affairs Council reviewed the progress made on a number of initiatives proposed under first stage of the project.
The Council adopted one of the proposals - the Council Recommendation on establishing national productivity boards. The member states are recommended to set up national boards to analyse developments in productivity and competitiveness and related policy challenges. The Council will transmit the recommendation to the European Council.
The Council invited the Economic and Financial Committee to continue examining the initiative on unified representation of the euro area in the International Monetary Fund and present a report to the Council in autumn 2016.
The European Commission informed the Council of the progress achieved in relation to the Commission decision on the establishment of an independent advisory European Fiscal Board.
The presidency of the Council is to report to the President of the European Council on the outcome of the discussion.
18 December 2015: the European Council confirmed its commitment to working towards completing the Economic and Monetary Union, in full respect of the internal market and in an open and transparent manner. It asked the Council to swiftly examine the Commission proposals issued as a follow-up to the Five presidents' report. In particular, work should rapidly advance on more effective economic and fiscal governance, the euro area's external representation and the banking union. The Council agreed to report on progress achieved by June 2016.
10 November 2015: the Economic and Financial Affairs Council exchanged views on the Commission's first package of proposals that are based on the Five presidents' report. The package was published on 21 October 2015. The presidency of the Council will report on the discussion to the president of the European Council ahead of the European Council meeting on 17 and 18 December.
15 October 2015: the European Council took stock of the discussions on the report on completing Europe's Economic and Monetary Union. It reiterated that the process of completing the Economic and Monetary Union must continue in full respect of the single market and in an open and transparent manner.
26 June 2015: the European Council discussed the report at its meeting and asked the Council to rapidly examine it.
12 February 2015: at an informal meeting, the heads of state or government held an in-depth discussion on improved economic governance and on better implementation of structural reforms on the basis of an analytical note prepared by the four presidents.
24 October 2014: the Euro Summit invited the President of the Commission, in close cooperation with the President of the Euro Summit, the President of the Eurogroup and the President of the European Central Bank, to prepare the next steps for better economic governance in the euro area. The European Council of confirmed this mandate on 18 December 2014.
All 28 member states have been involved in the preparation of the report, and the President of the European Parliament has been closely associated with the project.
The report builds on the Four Presidents' report 'Towards a genuine Economic and Monetary Union'. The latter was issued in 2012 at the height of the financial and sovereign debt crisis, which revealed a number of weaknesses in the architecture of the EMU.
In recent years, the EU member states and EU institutions have taken a number of steps to address these shortcomings. They introduced institutional innovations such as the establishment of the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) as a permanent crisis management mechanism, took a decision to activate financial assistance for member states experiencing difficulties, strengthened fiscal and economic surveillance, and put in place two key pillars of the banking union - the Single Supervisory Mechanism and the Single Resolution Mechanism. Many member states have also embarked on an ambitious reform agenda.
The new report considers that the foundations of the EMU need to be reinforced so that all member states can benefit fully from their participation in the currency union.
Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) refers to a stage in the ongoing process of economic integration of the EU member states that started in 1957, when the then member states focused on building a common market.
Greater economic integration reflects a long process in the history of the EU which is designed to bring the benefits of greater economic stability, higher growth and steady creation of employment across the EU member states.
Over time it became clear that closer economic and monetary cooperation was necessary for the internal market to develop and flourish further. The decision that the EU should establish an Economic and Monetary Union, with the euro as its single currency, was taken by the European Council in Maastricht (The Netherlands) in December 1991. Its principles are laid down in the Treaty on the European Union, also known as the Maastricht Treaty.
All EU member states participate in the economic union - they form the single market and coordinate their economic policies. Those countries that have already adopted the single currency - the euro - have taken a further step in economic integration and also participate in the monetary union.