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4th Dec 2022

Merkel's party calls for eurozone exit clause

  • Merkel's CDU party wants 'permanent commissioners' in charge of budget sinners (Photo: s_zeimke)

With Germany pushing for a change to the EU treaty in order to toughen up economic governance, an EU resolution agreed Monday (14 November) by Chancellor Angela Merkel's CDU party gives an idea of Berlin's thinking on the matter.

The 23-page resolution says an EU convention - a multi-layered body required for profound treaty change - with a "clearly defined mandate" should be called.

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The "goals" of treaty change discussion should be "automatic sanctions" within the stability and growth pact, with misbehaving member states liable to be taken to the European Court of Justice.

Meanwhile eurozone countries that are "permanently unwillingly or unable" to hold to the rules of the single currency should "voluntarily" be able to exit the eurozone.

Currently there are no rules on exiting the eurozone - an option first publicly aired when Greece threatened to have a referendum on its second bailout package - only for leaving the EU itself.

But before it comes to this step, however, the resolution suggests that states that get themselves into debt would be assigned a "budget commissioner" who would oversee public spending and restructuring measures. This person should have "powers to act" if the state failed to fulfil it duties.

Direct election of commission president

German centre-right politicians also suggest that the European Commission President should in future be directly elected by EU voters so that "political union gets a face."

Current rules say the president must be chosen in light of the European elections, meaning the person should come from the political family that gets the most votes.

But several have argued that agreeing a candidate beforehand would politicise a process that has long been seen as hollow democracy, with disinterested and ever fewer voters traipsing to European urns every five years.

This same political union, says the non-binding CDU resolution, should have a "democratic bicameral" parliamentary system, with the European Parliament representing citizens and the council of minister representing member states. Both chambers should have the right to initiate legislation.

Meanwhile, seats in the EU assembly should be distributed in a way that more strongly reflects national populations, with Germany the most populous EU member state.

Although the resolution is not binding, its gives a clear indication of the European path favoured by Germany's ruling party.

This is likely to strongly influence the debate in Brussels with EU council president Herman Van Rompuy due to president ideas on further EU economic integration - including those that involve treaty change - in early December.

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