22nd Mar 2018

Delors pessimistic about eurozone future

Former European Commission President Jacques Delors has expressed pessimism about the ability of the eurozone to survive the current economic crisis.

In an interview published in German economic monthly Capital, the French politician said "I could well imagine that the pressure of the strong on the weak to carry out better policy or leave the monetary union increases."

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  • Jaques Delors - worried about his political legacy (Photo: Wikipedia)

He said that while the 16-nation eurozone is not yet ripe enough for economic governance as the economic cultures among the single currency countries are too different, there must be more readiness to communicate.

"If the basic idea that there is a necessity for more prior consultation is not accepted, then I am pessimistic about the future of the euro," said Mr Delors.

He demanded that "federal" Germany, in particular, should accept a greater degree of co-operation.

Mr Delors - who served as president of the commission from 1985 to 1995, often referred to as Europe's greatest economic integration period and the heyday of Franco-German EU co-operation - indicated today's relations between Paris and Berlin are in dire straits.

"Quite frankly, little or nothing is working [in that relationship]," he said, suggesting it is due to the fact that memories of a post-war Europe are "fading" and are treated with "indifference."

He was also critical of the way the European Union as a whole is handling the economic crisis, saying it is so poor that he thought his "political legacy" was in danger, referring to the fear that member states may retreat into protectionism as a way of combating the downturn, undermining the single market.

He said Europe is reacting "slowly and ploddingly in areas such as new rules in financial supervision or on cleaning up banks."

Mr Delors is seen as the father of both the internal market and the monetary union. His comments come ahead of an EU leaders summit, where member states will try and agree a common position on financial regulation ahead of the G20 meeting in London at the beginning of April.

The summit, starting on Thursday, is also due to agree that more money be made available to member states outside the eurozone who are in trouble, with fears in recent weeks that Europe is creaking not just due to the pressures on the single market but from the perceived lack of solidarity between EU nations.

An informal meeting earlier this month saw Hungary - which suggested setting up a fund for central and eastern European countries - talk of an economic iron curtain, a phrase then splashed across newspapers throughout the EU.

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