Saturday

17th Feb 2018

MEPs slam Rehn over economic policy

  • Rehn: admitted the Troika should be subject to greater transparency (Photo: europarl.europa.eu)

EU economic affairs commissioner Olli Rehn faced a sustained verbal shellacking on Thursday (25 April), with MEPs on both the left and the right finding fault with his policy-making.

Rehn, who was speaking at a hearing with the economic and monetary affairs committee in Brussels, found himself criticised by the right for going soft on austerity and chastised by the left for not doing enough to promote growth.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

Jean Paul Gauzes, spokesman for the centre-right EPP group, accused him of "lacking courage and conviction."

It would be "a very bad sign if we say we have to move away from austerity," he noted.

The committee debate comes towards the end of a week in which EU officials offered conflicting views on the pace of economic reform in the eurozone.

For his part, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso indicated in a speech that austerity had "reached its limits," even though the EU executive was quick to maintain that its economic policies remain unchanged.

In a nod to efforts made to balance budgets across European capitals, Rehn noted that the pace of deficit reduction would slow to 0.75 percent in 2013 compared with a 1.75 percent fall in 2012.

Most countries now "have the room to make fiscal policy with a more medium-term view," he said.

But his comment was not enough to pacify the centre-left.

Green MEP Philippe Lamberts accused Rehn and the EU's other economic policy chiefs of "collective blindness."

Elisa Ferreira, the Portuguese spokesperson for the Socialist group, said her country is heading "straight for disaster" because the EU has provided no alternative to austerity.

"Enough is enough," she said.

Her fellow-countryman Diogo Feio, a centre-right MEP, called on the commission to offer incentives to Portugal, warning that the "social and political consensus is extremely fragile."

"If you have a country that respects its commitments you need to provide more instruments," he said

Rehn also conceded on the need for more transparency on decision-making in the Troika - a joint body of commission, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund officials which control EU bailout conditions.

The commissioner himself described the Troika's work as "complex and cumbersome."

"You have 20 vetoes and 20 red lines which … leads to decisions that are not first best, but second best," he said.

Opinion

Why austerity is failing in Europe

Until recently, Brussels has supported primarily front-load austerity measures. When President Hoover tried similar policies in the 1930s America, a severe recession morphed into a devastating Great Depression.

Agenda

Talking about monetary union and Cyprus this WEEK

Senior EU politicians will gather for a conference in Brussels Tuesday on how to reach economic and monetary union amid strong divisions between member states about the speed and order of the successive steps.

Baltic states demand bigger EU budget

The leaders of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania say in a joint letter that they are open to talks on creating "new own resources" for a bigger EU budget after the UK leaves the EU.

EU-Latin America trade talks move to 'endgame'

Senior negotiators in the EU-Mercosur talks will meet in Brussels on Friday to work out the technical bits of a possible trade deal, after top political officials gave the talks a final push.

News in Brief

  1. Merkel: Nord Stream 2 pipeline poses 'no danger'
  2. Spanish king in Barcelona next week
  3. Turkey jails journalists for life
  4. Make budget cuts in farm and regional funds, the Dutch say
  5. UN: Hungary's anti-migration bill is 'assault on human rights'
  6. Journalist Deniz Yucel freed in Turkey
  7. New organic farming bill not ready until late spring
  8. Commissioner: Western Balkans in EU is 'obvious'

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Partnership for Human RightsUzbekistan: Investigate Torture of Journalist
  2. EPSUMovie Premiere: 'Up to The Last Drop' - 22 February, Brussels
  3. CESICESI@Noon on ‘Digitalisation & Future of Work: Social Protection For All?’ - March 7
  4. UNICEFExecutive Director's Committment to Tackling Sexual Exploitation and Abuse of Children
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersState of the Nordic Region 2018: Facts, Figures and Rankings of the 74 Regions
  6. Mission of China to the EUDigital Economy Shaping China's Future, Over 30% of GDP
  7. Macedonian Human Rights Movement Int.Suing the Governments of Macedonia and Greece for Changing Macedonia's Name
  8. Dialogue PlatformBeyond the Errors in the War on Terror: How to Fight Global Militarism - 22 February
  9. Swedish EnterprisesHarnessing Globalization- at What Cost? Keynote Speaker Commissioner Malmström
  10. European Friends of ArmeniaSave The Date 28/02: “Nagorno-Karabakh & the EU: 1988-2018”
  11. European Heart NetworkSmart CAP is Triple Win for Economy, Environment and Health
  12. European Free AlllianceEFA Joined the Protest in Aiacciu to Solicit a Dialogue After the Elections

Latest News

  1. EU asks charities to explain anti-abuse measures
  2. ECB, Budget, EU elections This WEEK
  3. EU states stay mute on implementation of mercury bill
  4. Baltic states demand bigger EU budget
  5. Germany raises concerns over Hungary's 'Stop Soros' bills
  6. EU ties Brexit transition talks to divorce agreement
  7. EU divided over Western Balkan enlargement
  8. Facebook and Twitter weak on protecting users, says EU