Skeptics dismiss the agreement as a watered-down initiative of common-denominator compromises and delays. But it paves the way for an eventual banking union, and caps off a year of expressed commitments to deeper integration.
"The decision of European heads of state to create a banking union and a fiscal union still needs to be implemented. But that was a genuine game changer in a sense," says Jan Techau, director of Carnegie Europe at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Brussels. "It is by no means perfect and is not seen in action yet; but if this comes, that will create momentum for more political integration."