Tuesday

17th Oct 2017

Parliament wants equal powers over EU economic governance

Warning that the "democratic credibility" of the EU has been damaged in the eyes of citizens as economic integration proceeds apace with little input from ordinary people, the European Parliament has demanded that it be given equal powers to the other EU institutions over national budgetary control.

"The democratic credibility of European integration has suffered enormously from the manner in which the euro crisis has been dealt with to date," reads a strongly worded resolution passed with a strong majority in the chamber on Thursday (1 December).

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • Strasbourg: The parliament is worried that economic policy making is being cut off from democratic accountability (Photo: Architecture Studio)

The steady accretion of powers over national budget-making by unelected European actors has been criticised by a number of commentators as putting the interests of the markets ahead of democratic decision-making. Eyebrows have also been raised over the installation of technocratic governments in Greece and Italy.

The EU parliament now seems to be increasingly of a similar opinion, even on the right of the chamber, which gave its strong endorsement to the resolution drafted by French Socialist Pervenche Beres, who criticised "unilateral action" by EU actors involved in the crisis response.

"The lack of transparency in decision-making and opinion forming processes, particularly in the European Council and the Council of Ministers, is undermining citizens’ trust in European integration and the democracies of the European Union and is hindering the exercise of active, constructive control by citizens," continued the declaration, backed in the house by 501 to 106.

"Parliamentary debate on economic policy guidelines is the cornerstone of any democratic system."

"EU economic policy coordination will work only if it becomes more democratic and less technocratic," read a statement following the vote.

While the house has no power to impose its will in this area, the scale of the cross-chamber support for the ideas shows that the parliament has decided to stake out its claim for a decisive role in the construction of European economic union ahead of any discussion of treaty changes.

The key demand of the parliament is to be given what is called "co-decision" - equal powers with the Council of Ministers, which represents the member states - in approving the commission's oversight of national budgets.

"The commission is not elected, yet it is able to intervene in national budgets even before a national parliament has seen it. Where is the democratic control?" said Solange Helin Villes, spokesman for the Socialists and Democrats in the parliament.

MEPs expect to win this battle, saying that there is already a strong precedent in this area with the chamber's co-decision powers over the EU budget.

The commission for its part said that democratic input is necessary but that the parliament already has been awarded a larger role in the process.

Deeper integration of economic policy making requires "enhancing the democratic scrutiny of decision-making at the EU level, both by national Parliaments and the European Parliament," economic and monetary affairs spokesman Amadeu Altafaj-Tardio told EUobserver.

"[Legislation that] will soon enter into force has already considerably reinforced the role of the European Parliament, precisely to address concerns of transparency and democratic accountability of the type to which Madame Beres refers," he said, referring to a new 'economic dialogue' under which the economy commissioner, the president of the European Council and the head of the eurogroup as well as finance ministers of member states can be grilled by the parliament.

An EU finance minister

A second resolution called for the creation of a European finance minster and the establishment of a EU Treasury in the medium term. Finance ministers at the national level are normally responsible for the drafting the of budgets, taxation and economic policy.

Again, the chamber said that the finance minister should be made "democratically accountable to the parliament."

However, what this means precisely remains open.

The term "finance minister" normally describes an office inhabited by an individual drawn from a parliament, but the chamber is not so bold as to suggest that an EU finance minister be an MEP.

According to those close to the parliament's conception of what it would like to see, the minister could be drawn from the commission so long as the chamber was able to vet his or her work. 


Whether this individual could be dismissed by a vote of no confidence in the parliament, or could only be dismissed along with the whole of the commission "will be fleshed out later on," said one official.

Rehn to get increased economic powers

EU monetary affairs commissioner Olli Rehn is to be given extra powers to supervise national fiscal policies, as the commission moves quickly to centralise economic governance powers in Brussels.

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.

Opinion

Left flirting with antisemitism in EU parliament

It is outrageous that Leila Khaled, a member of a group listed by the EU as a terrorist organisation, was given a platform in the EU parliament, a body representing democracy and peaceful cooperation.

News in Brief

  1. EU to keep 'Dieselgate' letter secret
  2. No deal yet on Mediterranean alliance for EU agencies
  3. EU Commission condemns Maltese journalist's murder
  4. Poland denies wrongdoing over forest logging
  5. Risk to asylum kids in EU increasing, says charity
  6. Schroeder warns of Turkey and Russia drifting towards China
  7. EU parliament wants equal pay for posted workers
  8. Catalan independence leaders taken into custody

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EU2017EENorth Korea Leaves Europe No Choice, Says Estonian Foreign Minister Sven Mikser
  2. Mission of China to the EUZhang Ming Appointed New Ambassador of the Mission of China to the EU
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsEU Should Seek Concrete Commitments From Azerbaijan at Human Rights Dialogue
  4. European Jewish CongressEJC Calls for New Austrian Government to Exclude Extremist Freedom Party
  5. CES - Silicones EuropeIn Healthcare, Silicones Are the Frontrunner. And That's a Good Thing!
  6. EU2017EEEuropean Space Week 2017 in Tallinn from November 3-9. Register Now!
  7. European Entrepreneurs CEA-PMEMobiliseSME Exchange Programme Open Doors for 400 Companies Across Europe
  8. CECEE-Privacy Regulation – Hands off M2M Communication!
  9. ILGA-EuropeHealth4LGBTI: Reducing Health Inequalities Experienced by LGBTI People
  10. EU2017EEEHealth: A Tool for More Equal Health
  11. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Tourism a Key Driver for Job Creation and Enhanced Competitiveness
  12. CECENon-Harmonised Homologation of Mobile Machinery Costs € 90 Million per Year

Latest News

  1. Nepal troops arrive in Libya to guard UN refugee agency
  2. Is Banking Authority HQ the Brexit 'booby prize'?
  3. EU-Russia trade bouncing back - despite sanctions
  4. No sign of Brexit speed-up after May-Juncker dinner
  5. EU defence strategy 'outsourced' to arms industry
  6. EU privacy rules tilt to industry, NGO says
  7. Malta in shock after car bomb kills crusading journalist
  8. Spanish and Catalan leaders continue stand-off

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. ILGA-EuropeMass Detention of Azeri LGBTI People - the LGBTI Community Urgently Needs Your Support
  2. European Free AllianceCatalans Have Won the Right to Have an Independent State
  3. ECR GroupBrexit: Delaying the Start of Negotiations Is Not a Solution
  4. EU2017EEPM Ratas in Poland: "We Enjoy the Fruits of European Cooperation Thanks to Solidarity"
  5. Mission of China to the EUChina and UK Discuss Deepening of Global Comprehensive Strategic Partnership
  6. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceEHLA Joins Commissioners Navracsics, Andriukaitis and Hogan at EU Week of Sport
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council Representative Office Opens in Brussels to Foster Better Cooperation
  8. UNICEFSocial Protection in the Contexts of Fragility & Forced Displacement
  9. CESIJoin CESI@Noon on October 18 and Debate On: 'European Defence Union: What Next?'
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Innovation House Opens in New York to Support Start-Ups
  11. ILGA EuropeInternational Attention Must Focus on LGBTI People in Azerbaijan After Police Raids
  12. European Jewish CongressStrong Results of Far Right AfD Party a Great Concern for Germans and European Jews