Saturday

16th Feb 2019

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 18 year's of archives. 30 days 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. Spain's Sanchez calls snap election on 28 April
  2. 15,000 Belgian school kids march against climate change
  3. May suffers fresh Brexit defeat in parliament
  4. Warning for British banks over Brexit staff relocation
  5. Former Italian PM wants Merkel for top EU post
  6. Antisemitic incidents up 10% in Germany
  7. Italy's asylum rejection rate at record high
  8. Hungary will not claim EU funds for fraudulent project

Opinion

Eastern Europe Matters

The foreign ministers of Sweden, Poland and the Czech Republic reflect on 10 years of the Eastern Partnership with Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership
  2. Intercultural Dialogue PlatformRoundtable: Muslim Heresy and the Politics of Human Rights, Dr. Matthew J. Nelson
  3. Platform for Peace and JusticeTurkey suffering from the lack of the rule of law
  4. UNESDASoft Drinks Europe welcomes Tim Brett as its new president
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers take the lead in combatting climate change
  6. Counter BalanceEuropean Parliament takes incoherent steps on climate in future EU investments
  7. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”

Latest News

  1. Sluggish procedure against Hungary back on table
  2. Could Finnish presidency fix labour-chain abuse?
  3. Brexit and trip to Egypt for Arab League This WEEK
  4. Belgian spy scandal puts EU and Nato at risk
  5. EU Parliament demands Saudi lobby transparency
  6. Saudi Arabia, but not Russia, on EU 'dirty money' list
  7. EU agrees draft copyright reform, riling tech giants
  8. Rutte warns EU to embrace 'Realpolitik' foreign policy

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us