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15th Dec 2018

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Germany in renewed push for EU treaty change

  • Wolfgang Schaeuble: "I also fell to the temptation of deregulation, deregulation, deregulation" (Photo: consilium.europa.eu)

German finance minister Wolfgang Schaeuble has said discussions on revising the treaty to secure the eurozone's architecture will begin after the May EU elections.

"After the EU elections the debate about treaty change will be back on the table. The federal government will plead for institutional improvements, at least in the eurozone. The monetary union needs a joint finance- and economic policy, with corresponding institutions," Schaeuble said in an interview with Handelsblatt published on Thursday (27 March).

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He repeated his call for a eurozone parliament and a permanent chief of the Eurogroup, the informal gathering of eurozone finance ministers.

Schaeuble made similar comments in a speech in the Belgian city of Bruges the same day and in a joint op-ed with his British counterpart, George Osborne, published in the Financial Times.

The British government is seeking support for its own reformist agenda, which revolves around Prime Minister David Cameron's attempt to renegotiate the terms of UK's membership of the EU, culminating in a referendum on whether the country should remain in the Union.

Schaeuble subscribed to the idea that further eurozone integration should not become a disadvantage for the countries outside the euro.

“So future EU reform and treaty change must include reform of the governance framework to put euro area integration on a sound legal basis and guarantee fairness for those EU countries inside the single market but outside the single currency,” the two ministers wrote.

The Conservative government in Britain, traditionally close to business and banking interests, is concerned that the nascent banking union in the eurozone and further regulation of the financial system will impact London's financial powerhouse.

Speaking at Bruges' College of Europe, Schaeuble sought to allay these fears, saying that "as long as the UK will not join the eurozone, maybe we can find a two-speed solution,” FT reports.

But in a self-promotion video posted on YouTube, Schaeuble also said that "freedom needs rules and boundaries."

"I also fell to the temptation of deregulation, deregulation, deregulation. And in the end, financial markets destroyed themselves. And who had to rescue them? The stupid politicians, who suddenly were good enough for that. That's why we are applying the lessons learnt and create rules. They don't like it, but it has to be," the German finance minister said.

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