16th Nov 2018

Rehn calls for 'responsibilty' over economic rules

  • Rehn is willing to 'sacrifice' his summer holiday for the six pack (Photo:

With the political credibility of the EU in tatters over its handling of the eurozone crisis, monetary affairs commissioner Olli Rehn has appealed to MEPs and governments' "responsibility for Europe" as they continue to haggle over laws designed to prevent such a crisis happening again.

The so-called six pack of legislation will tighten economic governance in the EU but is currently stuck in the legislative pipeline as member states and MEPs battle it out over the automaticity of sanctions for countries that exceed budget deficit and debt limits.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

A hoped-for June deadline for agreement has already been missed. The delay in reaching a deal as well as fears that the teeth will be removed from the proposal adds to the growing perception that the EU is unable or unwilling to remedy its problems.

"There should be a political agreement on it as soon as soon as possible in order to reinforce confidence in the capacity to act of the European Union and to overcome the current sovereign debt crisis," said EU monetary affairs commissioner Olli Rehn, after a meeting of EU finance ministers on Tuesday (12 July).

"It is important to the medium and short-term fiscal prudence but it is important for the perceptions of today already in the short-term."

He called on the "sense of responsibility for Europe" among MEPs and member states to reach an agreement and said he was ready to "offer some of [his] summer holiday" if needed.

While the automaticity of sanctions is the main sticking point, the parliament itself is divided over the nature of the measures. The socialists want them to contain growth-boosting elements while centre-right and liberal MEPs simply want to concentrate on cutting deficits.

"I would virtually discount an agreement in July although there have been many twists and turns in the process," one parliament official told this website.

Last centimetre

The Polish presidency, which started running the day-to-day affairs of the EU on 1 July, has indicated it is pushing to get the whole package wrapped up in one vote, "probably" in September.

"We're really down to differences in one, at most two items and it's really the last centimetre and not the last mile. However, maybe because it's just the last centimetre, it's proving harder work than one might think", said Polish finance minister Jacek Rostowski.

The rules are meant to increase Brussels' oversight of public finances in member states, after the parlous state of Greece's finances was revealed in 2010, following years of unnoticed build-up.

The commission is keen to see the rules in place with member states already grumbling about fiscal targets set by Brussels under the European semester, a new system of centralised oversight on national economic planning.

"I want to underline that today we can only encourage the member states to do so (meet their fiscal targets), but tomorrow, provided that the package of economic governance is adopted, we can also enforce our messages," said Rehn.

But still there are doubts about whether the beefed up rules will be enough.

Speaking to MEPs earlier this month, Rostowski said: "We need to develop support programmes and reform programmes of the kind that the [International Monetary Fund] does on a regular basis."

Without more comprehensive measures, "I don't think the eurozone will be the kind of strong structure that we all need it to be," he said, according to Dow Jones.

No-confidence calls against May put Brexit deal in doubt

British PM Theresa May battles for survival as she faces calls for her resignation and the rebellion of several ministers who resigned over the draft Brexit deal - which the EU is preparing to sign later this month.


Key points of the Brexit deal (if it ever comes into effect)

The main points of the Brexit withdrawal deal between London and Brussels dissected. Although the EU is preparing to sign the agreement, the UK government has been rocked by resignations since its publication less than 24 hours ago.


US steps in to clean up Cyprus

Cyprus has overlooked undertakings on bank probity made to the EU in the context of the 2013 bailout - but it might prove harder to get the US off its back.

Asylum for Macedonia's ex-PM puts Orban on spot

Authorities in Budapest confirmed the former prime minister of Macedonia, fleeing a jail sentence in his own country, has filed for asylum. Despite Hungary's strict asylum laws, the pro-Kremlin politician was not turned away.

News in Brief

  1. UK's May defends Brexit deal to MPs, after ministers resign
  2. Brexit MP calls for 'no confidence' vote on May
  3. Denmark blocks Tanzania aid over homophobic crackdown
  4. Second UK cabinet minister resigns over Brexit deal
  5. UK Brexit secretary quits morning after deal agreed
  6. Romanian MPs call for national 'Magnitsky Act'
  7. Tusk: Brexit summit on Sunday 25 November
  8. Full text of Brexit withdrawal agreement published

Asylum for Macedonia's ex-PM puts Orban on spot

Authorities in Budapest confirmed the former prime minister of Macedonia, fleeing a jail sentence in his own country, has filed for asylum. Despite Hungary's strict asylum laws, the pro-Kremlin politician was not turned away.

Merkel calls for 'real, true' EU army

Angela Merkel's much-anticipated speech to the European Parliament was brief and to the point. Her message: Europe is alone in the world, the EU should be more united on defence, but not on the economy.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  4. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  5. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  6. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  7. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  8. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  9. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  10. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  12. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs

Latest News

  1. No-confidence calls against May put Brexit deal in doubt
  2. Key points of the Brexit deal (if it ever comes into effect)
  3. Romania heaps scorn on 'revolting' EU criticism
  4. US steps in to clean up Cyprus
  5. 'Decisive progress' on Brexit as British cabinet backs deal
  6. Asylum for Macedonia's ex-PM puts Orban on spot
  7. How the 'EU's Bank' fails to raise the bar on accountability
  8. Knives out on all sides for draft Brexit deal

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us