Wednesday

28th Jun 2017

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.

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.

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.

EU approves rescue of Italian banks

The European Commission gave the green light to a €17-billion plan by the Italian government to save Banca Popolare di Vicenza and Veneto Banca.

Row between EU ministers halts e-book tax rate

A bill to reduce VAT rates on e-books and e-publications has become the latest victim of a row between the Czech Republic and its partners over its own plan to collect VAT.

Focus

EU and China move to fill US void

At a summit in Brussels, EU and Chinese leaders will attempt to deepen ties on trade and climate as US president Trump plans to pull out of the Paris climate deal.

Italy reaches EU deal on failing bank

After months of negotiations, the European Commission and Italy agreed on the terms of rescue for Monte dei Paschi di Siena bank, including job cuts, salary caps and private sector involvement in the bailout.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Talks Should Insist on Ending Reprisals Against Critical Voices
  2. European Free AllianceEFA Is Looking for a New Intern
  3. Malta EU 2017Conservation of Atlantic Tunas: International Measures Become EU Law
  4. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceCan Statin Therapy Interfere With a Physically Active Lifestyle?
  5. EPSUOn Public Services Day, Stop Austerity! Workers Need a Pay Rise!
  6. EGBAOnline Gambling: The EU Court Rejects Closed Licensing Regimes In Member States
  7. World VisionFaces of Today, Leaders of Tomorrow: Join the Debate on Violence Against Girls - 29 June
  8. ECR GroupThe EU Must Better Protect Industry from Unfair Competition
  9. Malta EU 2017Better Protection for Workers From Cancer-Causing Substances
  10. EPSUAfter 9 Years of Austerity Europe's Public Sector Workers Deserve a Pay Rise!
  11. Dialogue PlatformGlobalised Religions and the Dialogue Imperative. Join the Debate!
  12. UNICEFEU Trust Fund Contribution to UNICEF's Syria Crisis Response Reaches Nearly €200 Million