14th 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.

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.

Italy defiant on budget on eve of EU deadline

Italy would be committing economic "suicide" if it fell in line with EU rules, its deputy leader has said, in a sign that Rome has little intention of bowing to pressure ahead of Tuesday's budget deadline.

EU action on Hungary and Poland drowns in procedure

EU ministers' discussion on how to address rule of law issues in Poland and Hungary gets stuck on procedural issues, while Viktor Orban's government claims it is a target of the Brussels elite because of its anti-migration stance.

EU warns Romania not to abuse GDPR against press

Romania's data protection authority has threatened a €20m fine against reporters investigating high-level corruption. The European Commission has since issued a warning, telling Romanian authorities to give press exemptions when it comes to privacy rights.

News in Brief

  1. Draft Brexit deal on London cabinet agenda on Wednesday
  2. EU proposes no visa for UK citizens after Brexit
  3. EU parliament 'deeply concerned' on Romania judiciary
  4. Macedonia's ex-PM flees to Hungary, seeks asylum
  5. Cyprus opens first new border crossings in eight years
  6. Putin's Austrian dance partner cancels Moscow visit
  7. Political deadlock over Sweden Democrat influence
  8. Court: Catalan referendum organisers must repay costs


EU 'Magnitsky Act' must bear its proper name

Sergei Magnitsky gave his life to fighting corruption. The least we can do is to honour his sacrifice in the name of the legislation that his heroism inspired.


All Quiet on the Eastern Front?

Russia is trying to foment a clash between Hungary and Ukraine over the territory of Zakarpattia in a potential crisis overlooked by EU leaders.

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. Merkel calls for 'real, true' EU army
  2. Italy defiant on budget on eve of EU deadline
  3. EU action on Hungary and Poland drowns in procedure
  4. EU unable to fully trace €1bn spent on refugees in Turkey
  5. Romanian leaders trade jibes over upcoming EU presidency
  6. EU warns Romania not to abuse GDPR against press
  7. EU 'Magnitsky Act' must bear its proper name
  8. Fear of nationalist surge marks European memorials

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us