Sunday

29th Mar 2020

Hollande calls for vanguard of states to lead strengthened eurozone

  • Hollande says Europe "must learn the lessons" of the Greek crisis and "go much further" . (Photo: Consillium)

French president Francois Hollande has called for a stronger more harmonised eurozone following a politically turbulent few weeks in which crisis with Greece has exposed the fault-lines in how the single currency is managed.

"What threatens us is not too much Europe, but too little Europe," he said in a letter published in the Journal du Dimanche.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or join as a group

He called for a vanguard of countries that would lead the eurozone, which should have its own government, a "specific budget" and its own parliament.

"Sharing a currency is much more than wanting convergence. It is a choice that 19 countries have made because it is in their interest," he wrote adding that this "choice" requires a "strengthened" organisation.

Founding countries

French prime minister Manuel Valls Sunday said the vanguard should include the six founding countries of the EU: France, Germany, Italy, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands.

He said France would prepare "concrete proposals" in the coming weeks. "We must learn the lessons and go much further," he added, referring to the Greek crisis.

"Europe has let its institutions weaken and the 28 governments struggle to agree to move forward. Parliaments are too far from decisions. People turn away because they have been bypassed,” said Hollande.

He added that “populists” have seized upon this “disenchantment” with Europe.

Hollande's calls come as the eurozone is locked in recriminations over its handling of Greece.

The country is set to get a third bailout following eleventh hour negotiations last week however neither the Athens government nor Berlin, the main architect of the bailout programme, believe it will be a success.

It exposed divisions between a camp of hardliners led by Germany, whose finance minister advocated a eurozone exit for Greece, and a camp led by France and Italy, which argued that the EU as a whole would be damaged if Greece left the euro.

The eurozone's set-up meant that it boiled down to the question of a legitimately-elected government in Berlin arguing against another legitimately-elected government in Athens.

The end result, with Greece essentially under eurozone tutelage, has exposed Germany to criticism that it is a too powerful member of the club.

Governance

There are plenty of ideas for how eurozone economic governance can be improved.

Last month, the European Commission published a ‘five presidents’ report on just this topic – it foresees a common deposit insurance scheme for eurozone banks under supervision of the European Central Bank (ECB), a bank resolution fund and eventually a euro area treasury.

However, these are controversial ideas and require more pooling of sovereignty at the EU level. This is at odds with the tone of the eurozone debate over the last weeks which, amid an erosion of trust, has seen a rise in nationalist rhetoric that pitted one state against another.

Eurozone should have own treasury by 2025

Eurozone states should cede more powers to EU institutions, including to a euro area treasury to be set-up in the next 10 years, a new report says.

Analysis

Hollande's limited eurozone vision

With his proposals for a more integrated eurozone, the French president is looking beyond the Greek crisis. But does he have a plan?

Schaeuble said to want to split EU commission powers

German finance minister Wolfgang Schaeuble would like the competition and single market departments removed from the European Commission, according to a report in Germany's leading centre-right daily.

News in Brief

  1. UK health minister tests positive for coronavirus
  2. Orban: coronavirus exposes EU 'weaknesses'
  3. Court orders Netherlands to pay colonial victims
  4. Belgian cat 'infected by coronavirus'
  5. UK PM Johnson tests positive for coronavirus
  6. EU agrees Libya naval mission after Greek solution
  7. US to upgrade its nuclear bombs in Europe
  8. US surpasses China and Italy with 82,404 corona cases

Vietnam sent champagne to MEPs ahead of trade vote

A trade deal with Vietnam sailed through the European Parliament's international trade committee and after its embassy sent MEPs bottles of Moet & Chandon Imperial champagne over Christmas.

Feature

Promises and doubts: Africa's free-trade adventure

The EU is hoping that a continent-wide free trade agreement in Africa will help lift millions out of poverty and help solve issues of security and migration. But its message of values and equal partnership do not resonate with everyone.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAMaking Europe’s Economy Circular – the time is now
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersScottish parliament seeks closer collaboration with the Nordic Council
  3. UNESDAFrom Linear to Circular – check out UNESDA's new blog
  4. Nordic Council of Ministers40 years of experience have proven its point: Sustainable financing actually works
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Baltic ministers paving the way for 5G in the region
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersEarmarked paternity leave – an effective way to change norms

Latest News

  1. EU doctors: bring refugees on Greek islands to safety
  2. Russia's top coronavirus 'fake news' stories
  3. WHO warning on lockdown mental health
  4. Virus: Frontex tells officers to keep guarding Greek borders
  5. EU heads struggle to find joint virus response
  6. Poland's sham presidential election in a pandemic
  7. Von der Leyen warns 'end selfishness' in virus crisis
  8. Chinese ambassador to EU: put trust before politics

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us