Saturday

24th Feb 2024

Non-euro finance ministers discuss approach to crisis

  • Two-speed Europe is a no-go for non-euro members (Photo: European Commission)

Finance ministers from the 10 EU countries outside the eurozone gathered on Monday night for an "informal dinner" in Brussels, while their euro counterparts met elsewhere, highlighting the rifts between the euro 'ins' and 'outs'.

Diplomats from the participating countries downplayed the symbolic importance of this "co-ordination meeting", instigated by Czech minister Miroslav Kalousek and the second such meeting of this kind since eurozone decision-making became more formalised in the wake of the the sovereign debt crisis.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Get the EU news that really matters

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

... or subscribe as a group

The first such meeting was held by Swedish finance minister Anders Borg in Luxembourg last month, but there is "no rotation" or "precise calendar" of upcoming similar gatherings, one source said. "It is not a club of 10," another diplomat said, "just an invitation to an informal dinner."

Although nominally belonging to the same group, the countries have diverging views on the common currency and the EU. The UK and Denmark have opted out of the obligation on EU members to join the euro, while Latvia, for instance, is still very keen on joining the currency. Romania wants a "United States of Europe" while the Czech Republic is more eurosceptic. Sweden, Poland and the rest of the central and eastern-European countries are also legally bound to eventually join the euro.

However, they are tied together by one common concern - that a two-speed Europe is being constructed leaving the easterners out and the British financial markets vulnerable to "constant attacks" from EU legislation penned without Britain's consent, as Prime Minister David Cameron put it two weeks ago.

The non-euro country grouping is one of a series of ad hoc formations that are springing up as the EU struggles to get to grips with its crisis.

Last month, the so-called Frankfurt Group emerged. This ad-hoc formation consists of the leaders of Germany, France, eurozone finance ministers, the chiefs of the European Central Bank, the European Commission, the European Council and the International Monetary Fund and first came together in Frankfurt - the seat of the ECB - during the farewell party of Jean-Claude Trichet, the former head of the bank.

It was during this first gathering that France and Germany's deep division about the role of the ECB became apparent. It was also this same formation that in the margins of last week's G20 meeting in Cannes showered Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou with criticism over his referendum plans.

Sarkozy tells Cameron to 'shut up' on eurozone

Sharp tensions between Paris and London flared up on Sunday amid crisis talks on the eurozone, as President Nicolas Sarkozy of France hit out at British criticisms of the single currency.

Sarkozy pushes for 'two-speed' Europe

With France's borrowing costs on the up and with its prized triple-A rating under threat, French leader Nicolas Sarkozy is publicly advocating a fast-lane Europe for 'core' euro-countries.

Opinion

Cameron needs to bring home the bacon

The UK premier will have to bring home some very definite commitments from Brussels to make it up for the promised referendum on the Lisbon Treaty and silence his eurosceptic critics, writes Helen Szamuely.

EU's €723bn Covid recovery fund saw growth, but doubts remain

The €723bn Covid-19 recovery fund, launched three years ago, has been a success, according to a mid-term internal review — but less effective than initially predicted. And according to one NGO, the commission painted an "overly positive picture".

France's Le Maire 'goes German' with austerity budget

The French government announced €10bn in further spending cuts. However, defence spending is set to increase significantly, up to €413bn from €295bn, while €400m was cut from a fund meant for renovating schools, carpooling infrastructure, and other environmental projects.

Opinion

After two years of war, time to hit Putin's LNG exports

Two years of tragedies, with well over 100,000 Russian war crimes now registered, underscore the urgent need to stop international LNG investments in Russia that continue to fund Vladimir Putin's war chest.

Opinion

Blackmailing the Global South on EU carbon border tax won't work

According to the European Commission, CBAM is supposed to prevent "carbon leakage". In other words, it seeks to prevent European industries relocating to jurisdictions with less stringent environmental policies, while also incentivising carbon pricing and industrial decarbonisation abroad.

Latest News

  1. EU rewards Tusk's Poland on rule of law with €137bn
  2. UK-EU relations defrosting ahead of near-certain Labour win
  3. EU paid Russia €420-per-capita for fossil fuels since war began
  4. After two years of war, time to hit Putin's LNG exports
  5. Creating the conditions for just peace in Ukraine
  6. Energy and minerals disputes overshadow new EU-ACP pact
  7. Germany speeds up Georgia and Morocco asylum returns
  8. How Amazon lobbyists could be banned from EU Parliament

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersJoin the Nordic Food Systems Takeover at COP28
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersHow women and men are affected differently by climate policy
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersArtist Jessie Kleemann at Nordic pavilion during UN climate summit COP28
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP28: Gathering Nordic and global experts to put food and health on the agenda
  5. Friedrich Naumann FoundationPoems of Liberty – Call for Submission “Human Rights in Inhume War”: 250€ honorary fee for selected poems
  6. World BankWorld Bank report: How to create a future where the rewards of technology benefit all levels of society?

Join EUobserver

EU news that matters

Join us