Sunday

22nd Sep 2019

Spanish commissioner lashes out at core eurozone states

  • Commissioner Almunia has hit back at Germany and the Netherlands (Photo: ec.europa.eu)

Spain’s European commissioner has lashed out at core eurozone states in the wake of suggestions from the Netherlands and Germany that heavily indebted members of the single currency could be booted out of the club.

"There are member states, in particularly some of the most powerful - Germany, Netherlands, Finland, Austria - who feel that they don't have this kind of problem," said Joaquin Almunia, the EU executive’s competition commissioner.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

These wealthier states feel that "they don't need to make an additional effort to compensate the lack of resources of the countries who have the most difficulties to reduce imbalances," he continued, according to a report from AFP.

Since the start of the eurozone crisis, Finland, Austria, the Netherlands and Germany, all triple-A-rated states, have consistently held to a hawkish line on austerity and demands on peripheral eurozone countries who did not benefit from the creation of the single currency to the same extent as the core.

Most recently, on Wednesday, the Hague and Berlin mooted the idea that if countries do not adhere to strict budget discipline, they could in extreme cases be expelled from the euro.

"Those who think that this hypothesis is possible just do not understand our process of integration," Almunia added, speaking in New York.

"European integration is the only option."

Greece on Thursday was also quick to respond to the bellicose language coming from the Netherlands and Germany, insisting that the country will not leave the euro.

“There is no threat of Greece exiting the eurozone,” government spokesman Ilias Mossialos said, according to local reports. “We are proceeding with reforms quickly.”

Separately, France on Thursday evening approved the second bail-out package for Greece and measures strengthening the eurozone’s rescue fund.

The bill approving an agreement reached between European premiers and presidents on 21 July this year won support from the governing right-wing UMP of President Nicolas Sarkozy while the opposition Socialists abstained. The far left voted against the measures.

Also on Thursday, Germany’s Bundestag initiated its debate on the strengthening of the eurozone rescue fund, the European Financial Stability Fund. Berlin is expected to vote on the wider package of measures on 29 September.

Meanwhile, the European Central Bank announced it was to keep interest rates unchanged at 1.5 percent as a result of what the bank’s president, Jean-Claude Trichet, described as "particularly high uncertainty and intensified downside risks" to the European economy.

His words were also echoed on Thursday in a gloomy warning from the OECD that declared the world to be on the brink of a second recession and that the eurozone crisis was in danger of worsening.

"Growth is turning out to be much slower than we thought three months ago and the risk of hitting patches of negative growth going forward has gone up," said OECD chief Economist Pier Carlo Padoan.

The eurozone will see 1.4 percent growth in the third quarter before dropping to just 0.4 percent in the final stretch of the year.

The zone’s main economic engine, Germany, will see growth of 2.6 percent in the third quarter, according to the OECD, before sliding to 1.4 percent in the fourth quarter.

Brussels: 'No one can leave the euro'

The European Commission has insisted that no member of the eurozone can leave the single currency. However, a European Central Bank legal study from 2009 argues that while voluntary withdrawal is legally not possible, expulsion remains "conceivable".

Hungary tops EU anti-fraud investigation list

In its annual report, the EU's anti-fraud agency said it concluded nine investigations into Hungary and found irregularities in seven cases. In total, the agency recommended the recovery of €371m EU-wide.

Exclusive

Brexit row delays financial products transparency review

A European financial regulatory body set up after the financial crisis is at loggerheads with the European Commission over whether to carry out a transparency review of certain financial products. The reason: Brexit.

Commission defends Mercosur trade deal

EU commissioners defended a far-reaching free trade agreement between the EU and four Latin American countries, against critics who fear it will damage European farmers' livelihoods and the global environment.

News in Brief

  1. Ireland: right Brexit deal is 'not yet close'
  2. UK secrecy on Brexit holds back wider EU talks
  3. Feminist mass protest in Spain after 19 murders this summer
  4. Global climate strike starts ahead of UN summit
  5. UK Brexit minister to meet Barnier on Friday
  6. Russia-Ukraine gas deal talks show 'progress'
  7. Nobel economist: Ireland 'not good EU citizen' on taxes
  8. Germany takes carbon border tax on board

Opinion

Why von der Leyen must put rights at core of business

Ursula von der Leyen's in-tray must include those European executives on trial for systematic workplace harassment, the break-up of European slavery rings, and allegations of European companies' abuse in palm oil, including child labour, land grabs, and deforestation.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNew programme studies infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance
  2. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  6. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  8. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  9. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  10. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  11. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  12. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat

Latest News

  1. Europe goes to New York This WEEK
  2. Nine EU 'commissioners' asked to clarify declarations
  3. Dismiss Italy's Salvini at your peril
  4. Malta PM accused of 'blackmail' over slain reporter
  5. Diplomats back Romania's Kovesi for EU top prosecutor
  6. Brexit raises questions for EU defence integration
  7. Low-carbon cities can unlock €21tn by 2050, report finds
  8. France, Italy want 'automatic' distribution of migrants

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us