Saturday

25th Jun 2022

Schaeuble said to want to split EU commission powers

  • Wolfgang Schaeuble (r) with French finance minister Michel Sapin (Photo: consilium.europa.eu)

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.

The FAZ newspaper reports that Schaeuble believes the commission can no longer combine its role as 'guardian' of the EU treaties - including enforcing anti-trust and internal market rules - with its increasingly political role as a nascent EU government.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

These thoughts have crystallized amid the long-running dispute between Greece and its creditors - of which the European Commission represents one part.

Schaeuble became increasingly irritated with the commission's part in the back-and-forth between Athens and Brussels. The EU executive is supposed to have a technical role checking whether Greece is implementing promised reforms.

However commission president Jean-Claude Juncker has been much more active, frequently phoning and meeting Greek leader Alexis Tsipras. In Schaeuble's view this strengthened Tsipras' calls for a deal at the highest political level and involving a debt cut.

The simmering disapproval in Berlin about how the commission was handling the negotiations with Greece spilt over when Schaeuble publicly -albeit indirectly - rebuked Juncker's chief of staff Martin Selmayr for sending a jubilant tweet about reform proposals sent by Athens - proposals later deemed unacceptable by the creditors.

According to FAZ, Schaeuble is not against the commission having a more political role in EU governance but the trade-off needs to be setting up separate technical bodies that deal with competition and internal market issues.

The Netherlands is expected to make the issue one of its focal points during its EU presidency in the first half of next year.

Schaeuble is also hoping for support from London which is itself looking to reform the EU ahead of a planned referendum on EU membership which could take place as early as June 2016.

The proposals are set to be controversial in Brussels.

The European Commission is keen on its role as treaty enforcer and the competition and internal market departments are arguably the most important and far-reaching of all the commission's departments.

Eurozone architecture

Aired at an EU finance ministers' meeting in Brussels earlier this month, Schaeuble's ideas come amid a general feeling among several EU capitals that the eurozone's architecture must be improved.

Italian finance minister Pier Carlo Padoan told the FT earlier this week that leaders "must clearly admit that the existing monetary union is an incomplete mechanism" while French president Francois Hollande called for a vanguard of states to lead a strengthened eurozone.

Meanwhile, commission president Juncker has repeatedly said his commission is a 'political' one, arguing that citizens can relate to an institution that is political more than one they perceive to be only technocratic.

But so far the proposals have tended to remain vague and aspirational as the next steps in eurozone integration such as a eurozone budget, finance minister, or fully-fledged political union, are ideas that require giving more powers up to the EU level.

There is also limits to what can be done without a treaty change - a long and difficult process that can be vetoed by single states.

Cameron planning June 2016 EU vote

David Cameron is poised to set out plans for the UK’s referendum on European Union membership to be held in June next year.

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?

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.

Eurogroup closes Schaeuble era

Eurozone finance ministers bade farewell to their longest-serving and most influential colleague, while preparing to also replace its chairman at the end of the year.

News in Brief

  1. Possible terror attack halts gay pride in Norway
  2. Belgian PM: Gas shortage requires joint response
  3. Bulgarian MPs set conditions for lifting enlargement veto
  4. Latvia: We need a brigade-size Nato force to 'feel safe'
  5. Deal reached on controversial energy treaty reform
  6. EU carbon emissions from energy up 6% in 2021
  7. Germany step closer to gas rationing
  8. Albania: EU 'disgrace' at lack of enlargement progress

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersEmerging journalists from the Nordics and Canada report the facts of the climate crisis
  2. Council of the EUEU: new rules on corporate sustainability reporting
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers for culture: Protect Ukraine’s cultural heritage!
  4. Reuters InstituteDigital News Report 2022
  5. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBHow price increases affect construction workers
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic think tank examines influence of tech giants

Latest News

  1. EU summit's uncertainty in the face of economic war
  2. Next winter's gas looms large at EU summer summit
  3. Ukraine becomes EU candidate after 120 days of war
  4. How to enhance EU cybersecurity
  5. Competing options for EU enlargement
  6. MEPs demand to exit 'ecocide treaty' after reforms 'fail'
  7. Finland optimistic in Turkey talks over Nato
  8. Hungary's global-tax veto seen as 'blackmail'

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us