ROME: German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said Thursday that, like France’s president-elect Emmanuel Macron, he is in favor of creating a parliament for the 19-country eurozone.
“I discussed it with President Macron,” Schaeuble told the Italian daily La Repubblica in an interview.
“A eurozone parliament could be set up, made up of European parliamentarians, which would have consultative powers” for moving forward the European Stability Mechanism (ESM), Schaeuble said.
The Luxembourg-based ESM, operational since October 2012, is a bailout fund for eurozone countries.
“Macron and I are in complete agreement on this matter—there are two ways of reinforcing the eurozone: changing the treaties or taking the more pragmatic approach by doing it on an intergovernmental level,” the German minister said.
“Treaty modifications must be unanimous and be ratified by national parliaments or by referendums in some countries,” Schaeuble continued.
“Given that that is not currently realistic, we should try to move forward with existing instruments,” such as developing the ESM treaty, he suggested.
Schaeuble said that the only available solution at the moment would be to set up a “European Monetary Fund” based on the ESM’s statutes.
The head of the Eurogroup of finance ministers, Jeroen Dijsselbloem, has already called for the creation of a European monetary fund which would replace the International Monetary Fund in any future bailouts of eurozone countries.
Schaeuble, who fiercely believes that eurozone countries should balance their budgets, has also argued in recent months that budget monitoring in the single currency area be a matter for the ESM rather the EU Commission, as is the case at present.
“In Germany, we’ve believed for a long time that monetary union be strengthened. The problem is well-known: we have a single monetary policy but insufficient convergence in matters of economic and fiscal policy,” Schaeuble said.
“We need to create conditions that are favourable for investment. We’re working on it. Plans are ready for Franco-German cooperation, but also for cooperation with other countries,” he said.
Schaeuble also criticised in passing France’s previous reticence on the issue of strengthening the EU.
“The transfer of parts of national sovereignty to Europe has never failed because of Germany or Italy, but more because of France,” he said. AFP