2nd Dec 2023

Prodi advocates changes in Stability Pact

  • ROMANO PRODI - EU Commission president: "It is time that we said in public what we say in private." (Photo: European Commission)

Commission President Romano Prodi held to his earlier statements on the stability pact, where he had termed as stupid its rigid rules. Speaking during a debate in the European Parliament where he was invited to clarify his statements, Romano Prodi said the stability and growth pact has limitations due to its institutional framework in which it is applied, and said the EU institutions have a duty to say publicly what they think could be improved. "It is time that we said in public what we say in private," Mr Prodi said.

Establishing authority

The Commission will shortly put forward proposals for improving the transparency and discipline of the Pact. "But new and better rules are not enough ... protecting the EU's common interest also calls for the capacity to implement them," he said.

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He therefore called for the establishment of an authority, ideally the Commission itself, that could apply rules strictly to prevent behaviour from EU states which is off-course, and adapt the rules to changing circumstances. "As an institution the Commission's role is to act in the common interest of the EU while respecting the full equality of all the member states...the Commission's role is therefore naturally suited to this steering role, on the basis of the mandate and the rules laid down by the Council and subject to Parliament's control." The Commission said that if it had such an authority, the early warning it had issued against Portugal would have been carried through and not stopped by the Council.

No regrets

Expressing no regrets to what he intentionally declared in the Le Monde interview, Romano Prodi said that what he called stupid was an inflexible and dogmatic enforcement of the pact regardless of the changing circumstances. The statement of the Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs, Pedro Solbes, who spoke just after Prodi had a different opinon: "The Pact provides enough flexibility to meet the short-term and long term policy challenges the union is facing."

Harsh words for Prodi

The EPP-ED Chairman Hans-Gert Poettering had harsh words for Prodi, and said that the events that took place should not be repeated. He regretted that Romano Prodi did not withdraw his statement and said that Prodi has defeated European law by what he said on the Stability Pact. The European Socialist leader Enrique Barón Crespo on the other hand agreed on most of the topics Mr Prodi mentioned in the interview. "We have to update the Stability and Growth Pact. We need to improve the instrument which is inflexible."

MEP Graham Watson from the liberals wondered if Prodi's statements in the French newspaper where all part of an orchestrated campaign, since France is one of the countries with a budgetary deficit close to the budgetary deficit ceiling of 3 per cent GDP. MEP Daniel Cohn-Bendit from the Greens was quite in line to what Mr Prodi said, "Let's stop being hypocritical. When Europe makes the wrong choice we have to say so."

Prodi calls stability pact 'stupid'

Commission spokesman Jonathan Faull had to carry out a damage limitation exercise after an interview by Commission president Romano Prodi with Le Monde. Mr Prodi's unguarded comments on the growth and stability pact were published in the Thursday edition of the French paper.


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