Saturday

21st Sep 2019

Juncker calls for greater eurozone oversight

Eurozone chief Jean-Claude Juncker has called for better oversight of the 16-member currency area, with a greater role for the European Commission to reprimand countries for falling behind.

"The eurogroup should pursue broader economic surveillance, both to identify individual priority issues for each of our member states and to establish a coherent framework for action to enhance the performance of the entire eurozone economy," Mr Juncker wrote in a letter to eurozone finance ministers, seen by AFP.

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  • Mr Juncker (right) lost out to Mr Van Rompuy (left) for the EU presidency post (Photo: premier.fgov.be)

"The European Commission should not hesitate to ... address a warning to the member state" not respecting criteria and commitments, continued the Luxembourgish prime minister on the eve of a eurozone finance ministers' meeting in Brussels on Monday (18 January).

The comments come in the context of a wider debate about European economic co-ordination, with the Spanish EU presidency recently supporting stricter surveillance of economic targets agreed under the EU's 2020 growth strategy, to be discussed by leaders at a summit next month.

Critical remarks from Germany have caused the Spaniards to partially row back on talk of "corrective measures" for states which fail to meet targets under the plan however, with Germany keen to preserve the independence of the European Central Bank and prevent extra bureaucracy.

In his letter to finance ministers, Mr Juncker also says he is keen to boost the euro area's profile in international institutions, including the creation of a single seat for the currency club in the G20 and International Monetary Fund.

Re-election

Already head of the euro group since 2005, Mr Juncker looks set to be re-elected to the policy co-ordinating post for another 30 months on Monday, when the 16 finance ministers meet.

The election stems from the EU's new set of rules, with the previously informal euro group configuration now achieving formal standing under the Lisbon Treaty, in force since 1 December 2009.

However many see the appointment as something of a consolation prize for Europe's longest serving leader, after his failed bid to secure the post of the EU's first full-time president, ultimately claimed by the Belgian, Herman Van Rompuy.

Reports suggest French President Nicolas Sarkozy blocked Luxembourg's inveterate chain-smoker from getting the Van Rompuy post last November, blaming Mr Juncker for not acting quickly enough to tackle the global financial crisis.

"Certain leaders didn't want to give me their trust," Mr Juncker said at the time.

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