Friday

1st Mar 2024

Van Rompuy wants clearer 'hierarchy' to deal with future crises

European Council President Herman Van Rompuy has said he is looking to establish a clearer "hierarchy" among the EU institutions and member states to make it easier to deal with any future crises in the eurozone.

Mr Van Rompuy, in charge of a task-force looking into the future of economic governance in the EU, said he proposed to its opening meeting last week that "informal procedures and informal co-ordination mechanisms" be set up to help give some coherence within the EU structure.

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  • Mr Van Rompuy spoke out against opening a new treaty discussion (Photo: premier.fgov.be)

"We are working in order to have some crisis cabinet because we are a lot of players in the field - certainly when you are in crisis - and there is not much hierarchy or organic links between the main players and the main institutions."

"Really, this is a problem," he told a gathering organised by European Movement International on Tuesday (25 May).

An informal structure could include the European Comission President Jose Manuel Barroso, the head of the European Central Bank Jean-Claude Trichet and Mr Van Rompuy, a source later said.

The tentative proposal comes after the EU's often torturous approach to the Greek debt crisis - a protracted response that widened the problem to the eurozone and almost made it a global crisis.

As market-induced panic looked set to gain a foothold, and following the intervention of US President Barack Obama, the 16-member eurozone agreed a €750 million EU/IMF package earlier this month.

But it is widely agreed that this is only a stop-gap measure and that the EU's budget discipline rules need to be tightened.

Germany, angry at paying the lion's share of the Greek bail-out - a move that is extremely unpopular among ordinary Germans - is leading the calls for a rules change, including a modification of the treaty.

But Mr Van Rompuy spoke out against opening a new treaty discussion, pointing to the achievement of arriving at the Treaty of Maastricht, which paved the way for the single currency, that governments should be wary of re-opening such discussions.

"Now that we have [the treaty], we should be cautious with it," he said, although he admitted that the Lisbon Treaty only gave "limited" room for manoeuvre.

He is the second EU figure to speak out against treaty change after Mr Barroso forcefully rejected the idea in a newspaper interview.

Defending the general response to the crisis, Mr Van Rompuy said it had shown that lessons had been learnt from 1930s.

He pointed out that the recession lasted only 12 months in most EU states and that there was "no real movement towards protectionism."

But the Belgian politician noted that "serious errors" had been made in the last decade, including letting countries go unpunished for breaching the eurozone rules, ignoring the huge economic divergences between euro states and not acting even though weaker economies had been already showing balance-of-payment problems for several years.

The article previously stated that Mr Van Rompuy had spoken about a "cavalry" when referring to agreement on the Treaty of Maastricht. Mr Van Rompuy actually said "calvary."

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