Tuesday

21st Feb 2017

No eurozone-only assembly, say MEPs

  • The Van Rompuy paper will top the agenda at the October EU summit (Photo: European Parliament)

MEPs have dismissed suggestions that a new parliamentary body should be set up solely for eurozone members stating that “no new accountability structures specific to the euro-area must be established.”

In an unofficial reflection paper prepared by the three MEPs representing parliament in advance of negotiations with Herman Van Rompuy, the deputies said: "the Euro is the currency of the European Union and European Parliament is the parliament of the European Union. The European Parliament, therefore, is the parliament of the Euro."

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Van Rompuy recently mooted the possibility of a separate body for the eurozone-17 in an ideas paper circulated to member states.

The EU Council chief also hinted at establishing "a central budget for the euro area" in order to "deal with asymmetric shocks and help prevent contagion."

The parliament's team of ‘sherpas’ consists of German conservative Elmar Brok, along with Liberal group leader Guy Verhofstadt, and Italian centre-left deputy Roberto Gaultieri.

In a five page memo, MEPs claim that reforms should be based on “four building blocks”: banking, fiscal, economic and political union.

In a bid to increase political integration, they also called for all European political parties to appoint a candidate for the Commission presidency for the 2014 elections.

Meanwhile, the Economic and Monetary Affairs commissioner should become the official "treasurer of the EU" and chair eurozone finance minister meetings.

The sherpas also insist that “a more integrated fiscal union should include different forms of fiscal solidarity, from short-term funding instruments on a limited and conditional basis, to gradual roll-over into a redemption fund.” This could also mean the swift introduction of joint liability eurobills to replace short-term government debt.

The idea of a redemption fund pooling all eurozone sovereign debt over the 60% threshold set out in the Stability and Growth Pact to be paid off over 20 years, was presented earlier this year by the German Council of Economic Experts and is unlikely to require a treaty change.

The paper comes as the parliament is set to begin battling with member states over the commission’s ambitious banking union legislation. Although the proposals include a revision of the rule-book establishing the European Banking Authority, which was jointly approved by MEPs and governments l in 2011, the regulation to establish the European Central Bank as the eurozone’s single financial supervisor only gives EU governments a say.

MEPs insist that they will treat the two files as a package with an equal say for parliament. They are also insisting on greater scrutiny powers over the ECB in its new role.

Negotiations between Van Rompuy, the commission and parliament will finalise a set of proposals to top off the agenda at the European Council summit on October 18-19.

Van Rompuy is hoping that member states can agree on the less politically-charged proposals which can be effected without a convention and treaty change.

Germany backs pooling of debt, no joint liability

The idea of a debt redemption fund for eurozone countries is not completely unpalatable to the German government, provided each state remains liable for its own debt, a German finance ministry official has said.

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