Saturday

27th Aug 2016

EU leaders stalling 'irresponsibly' on crisis, MEPs say

EU leaders are stalling "irresponsibly" and even rolling back some decisions on banking union and further integration of the eurozone, MEPs said on Tuesday (23 October) in a debate on the outcome of last week's summit.

The two-day summit, which saw 10 hours of debates and disagreements among EU leaders on Thursday night, was defended by EU council chief Herman Van Rompuy and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso as an "intermediate" one, aimed at "reconfirming" earlier decisions and paving the way for more "substantial" decisions in the coming months.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

Van Rompuy acknowledged that the EU may have "underestimated the breadth and depth of the crisis in some member states."

But he insisted that changes were coming, even if in small steps. Transforming the eurozone into a closer political and economic union - as markets expect - will need some "excruciating work," he said.

"What we're getting at now is the crux, the hard core of sovereignty and solidarity. There are number of taboos that have to be touched."

Leading members of the European Parliament were not impressed.

"We have seen some happy faces again after this summit. But this is not enough for us. Instead of discussing a 'super-commissioner for finance' as German Chancellor Angela Merkel has been doing, we must take robust action," said Socialist leader, Austrian deputy Hannes Swoboda.

Spain and Ireland "need our help and support now, not in 2015 or in the distant future," he added in a reference to the June agreement that the eurozone bailout fund (ESM) will be used to prop up banks in these two countries.

After last week's summit it became clear that this scheme will need another series of decisions which will require the approval of the German Bundestag.

Liberal leader Guy Verhofstadt accused EU leaders of dragging their feet because next September's elections in Germany. "This is irresponsible in the middle of the crisis," he said.

The Liberal leader also dismissed proposed "contracts" between member states and the EU commission which would make reform pledges more binding.

"Europe is a political Union, based on common policies, based on binding legislation, not contracts," he said.

The idea, backed by Germany and penned down in a report drafted by Van Rompuy on how to bring about more economic and political integration in the eurozone, will be "further explored" at another summit in December.

Not all countries were happy with the development.

According to sources, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte on Thursday night took a long time to agree to the loose wording. He had originally demanded that the option only be considered for countries that have overstepped the EU's deficit and debt rules. Rutte also questioned who would double-check such agreements.

The other sticking point that night was on the eurozone budget.

Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite insisted that plans for a eurozone budget should be clearly separated from the upcoming EU budget for 2014-2020 as such, not just the negotiations on it currently under way. This reflects a lingering fear from new member states that rich countries in the eurozone will have a pretext for putting less money in the common pot.

Her main opponent on the matter was Britain's David Cameron, who wants to make sure that his country pays as little as possible to the joint EU budget. Other eastern countries also quietly supported her, but given the late hour and the early stage of the eurozone budget idea, they chose not to put up a fight. In the end, the text stayed as initially drafted, separating between the eurozone budget and EU budget "negotiations."

Cameron also raised questions on the proposed eurozone banking supervisor with respect to British voting rights within the European Banking Authority - a London-based umbrella organisation of national supervisors.

For her part, British centre-left opposition MEP Sharon Bowles, who chairs the economics committee, on Tuesday in Strasbourg also questioned the rationale for the "legislative rush" on the banking supervisor when clearly a few more months could bring more quality to the bill.

"We are heading towards a banking union-lite," she said.

"Is it just about pushing for good news before the public and the parliament can realise what it's about?" she asked.

News in Brief

  1. Hungary plans to reinforce border fence against migrants
  2. France's highest court suspends burkini ban
  3. Greeks paid €1bn more in taxes in June
  4. Greek minister denounces EU letter on former statistics chief
  5. Turks seeking asylum in Greece may cause diplomatic row
  6. Merkel becomes digital resident of Estonia
  7. Report: VW will compensate US dealers with €1bln
  8. EU mulls making Google pay news media for content

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. GoogleBrussels - home of beer, fries, chocolate and Google’s Public Policy Team - follow @GoogleBrussels
  2. HuaweiSeeds for the Future Programme to Bring Students from 50 countries to China for Much-Needed ICT Training
  3. EFASpain is not a democratic state. EFA expresses its solidarity to Arnaldo Otegi and EH Bildu
  4. UNICEFBoko Haram Violence in Lake Chad Region Leaves Children Displaced and Trapped
  5. HuaweiMaking Cities Smarter and Safer
  6. GoogleHow Google Makes Connections More Secure For Users
  7. EGBAThe EU Court of Justice Confirms the Application of Proportionality in Assessing Gambling Laws
  8. World VisionThe EU and Member States Must Not Use Overseas Aid for Promoting EU Interests
  9. Dialogue PlatformInterview: "There is a witch hunt against the Gulen Movement in Turkey"
  10. ACCAACCA Calls for ‘Future Looking’ Integrated Reporting Culture With IIRC and IAAER
  11. EURidNominate Your Favourite .eu or .ею Website for the .EU Web Awards 2016 Today!
  12. Dialogue PlatformAn Interview on Gulen Movement & Recent Coup Attempt in Turkey