Monday

23rd Jan 2017

Hollande: EU parliament may need to be altered

  • The European Parliament - in future with MEPs and super euro MEPs? (Photo: European Parliament)

The eurozone has priority when it comes to further integration, says French President Francois Hollande, something that will eventually have to be reflected in the European Parliament.

"My position is that the solidarity integration has to happen first among the 17 [euro states], he said early Friday morning during a summit in Brussels.

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Countries that have a "vocation" to join the single currency can also be involved.

He noted: "If we wait for the 27 to come to an agreement we risk waiting for a long time."

His remarks chime with recent 'two-speed-Europe' comments by German Chancellor Angela Merkel that she would prefer to proceed with all member states, but those who want to press ahead should not be held up by others.

The statements are particularly pertinent for the UK, which is both urging the eurozone to integrate further to prevent collapse and warning it not to impinge on rules it likes - such as those to do with the single market.

However Hollande went further than Merkel. He suggested that a eurozone hub would have its own tailored institutions - a highly sensitive issue that risks once again exacerbating political tension between the euro ins and outs.

Speaking about the European Parliament he said: "In the long run there will be a reflection on how the parliament can bring the 17 alive ... because the 17 will have greater responsibilities."

The idea has been aired before. French Socialist MEP Pevenche Beres recently proposed eurozone deputies should alone be allowed to vote on single currency issues, a suggestion that attracted strong criticism at the time.

The French president also shed some light on how he would justify giving more sovereignty to Brussels - unpopular among his own socialist backbenchers. But it is a key issue for Berlin which wants more EU oversight on spending before it will consider any move to mutualising debt.

“The eurozone cannot stay in the state it is in today," said Hollande adding that a banking union is "indispensable" while a budgetary union needs a treasury that can lend money. "We are not there yet."

He said the eurozone needs common growth, competitiveness, industrial and energy policies leading to a political union that could justifiably see the transfer of sovereignty.

"The political union mentioned today does not have any content at the moment," he said

EU should raise own taxes, says report

A group chaired by former Italian PM and EU commissioner Mario Monti says Brexit should be used to create EU-level levies to depend less on member states contributions, and to abolish member states rebates in the EU budget.

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