Monday

1st Mar 2021

European Commission should be EU government, says Germany

  • Wolfgang Schaeuble is tipped to be the next head of the eurozone group of finance ministers (Photo: World Economic Forum)

The European Union needs to become more integrated with a common finance policy and a central government, German finance minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said Wednesday (16 May).

"I would be for the further development of the European Commission into a government. I am for the election of a European president, he said at an event in Aachen, reports Reuters.

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"I am in favour of being more courageous on Europe," said Schaeuble, who is one of the German government's most pro-European ministers.

He said this is a longterm response to the current eurozone crisis, which many have said has been exacerbated by the fact that the EU lacked the tools - such as a central transfer system - to effectively deal with it.

"We certainly won't manage it in this legislative period," said Schauble referring to the creation of a finance ministry but noted that for a currency union, a part of finance policy needs to be harmonised.

That should be the "lesson" learned from the current crisis.

He said he wants to widen citizens participation in EU politics beyond voting for MEPs to voting for the president of the European Commission, noting that the recent French presidential elections, including a three-hour TV debate between the two candidates, attracted interest far beyond the country's borders.

His comments come as the eurozone is in its most difficult period since its sovereign debt crisis began over two years ago.

Politicians are openly talking about the prospect of Greece having to leave the euro following the 6 May election which saw most of the population reject the tough terms attached to the two bailouts the country has had.

Some EU leaders, including European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, have indicated that Greeks should see the follow-up elections, due on 17 June, as a referendum on whether they want to stay in the euro.

Political messages on the future of Greece and the 17-nation eurozone have multiplied in recent days leading to a febrile atmosphere in the markets.

British leader David Cameron is due to step into the fray Thursday (17 May).

He will tell a business audience in England that the eurozone has to head towards political and fiscal union or risk a "potential break-up," reports the Financial Times.

"Either Europe has a committed, stable, successful eurozone with an effective firewall, well-capitalised and regulated banks, a system of fiscal burden sharing and supportive monetary policy across the eurozone or we are in uncharted territory which carries huge risks for everyone.”

Euro fears rise as Greeks withdraw money from banks

Greeks have withdrawn billions of euros from their banks in recent days, with the country's president warning of "panic" at the prospect of the country leaving the eurozone. Markets are equally jittery, pushing Spain closer to a bail-out.

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