The extra economic reform "breathing space" granted to enable EU countries to meet deficit-cutting requirements and boost growth was welcomed by MEPs in Monday's joint economic affairs and employment committee debate with Commissioners Olli Rehn and László Andor. MEPs also criticized the analysis and economic theories underlying austerity recommendations.
MEPs were broadly critical of the outcome of last week's EU summit on tax evasion and energy, as reported by Commission President José Manuel Barroso and European Council President Herman Van Rompuy on Tuesday. Some political group representatives felt the summit's conclusions were "too little, too late". Others said it had failed to address the real problems or to set any real deadlines for achieving stated aims.
Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee MEPs quizzed Commissioner Barnier Monday on his upcoming proposals for dealing with banks in trouble. They pressed him to present an ambitious plan. Other questions concerned planned legislation on shadow banking and insurance as well as transatlantic relations.
Taxpayers and savers must be the last people called upon to bail out banks, says Parliament's negotiating position, approved by the Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee on Monday, on draft rules on saving struggling banks. The text rules out using deposits below €100,000 and says that even deposits above €100,000 should be the last to be called in. The committee voted against using deposit guarantee funds for resolution actions and also set out strict conditions for using taxpayer's money.
The confusion and delay that surrounded decisions on the Cyprus assistance plan were not only due to Cypriot intransigence. Rather, they reveal a need to radically rethink Eurogroup and Troika working methods, argued Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee MEPs in Wednesday's debate with Commissioner Olli Rehn and ECB Executive Board member Jorg Asmussen.
Pressure to reveal how the Cyprus financial plans were hatched would continue, the chair of Parliament's economic and monetary affairs committee, said on Tuesday when she closed a debate with Eurogroup President Jeroen Dijsselbloem that left various MEPs less than fully satisfied on the quality of the answers provided.
The European Commission's austerity focus was widely lambasted by centre-left MEPs at an Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee meeting with Commissioner Olli Rehn on Thursday, only a week after he last came in for strong criticism in Parliament's plenary chamber. But the centre right's lead MEP urged Mr Rehn to show more bravery and conviction amid growing signs that the Commission may to bow to anti-austerity campaigners.
MEPs quizzed European Central Bank Vice-President Vitor Constancio on what more can be done to help credit flow to businesses and households, whether austerity is the right recipe, ECB transparency and possible interest rate cuts at Wednesday's Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee meeting on ECB activities in 2012.
Property buyers would be better informed about the costs and consequences of taking on a mortgage, better protected from market swings while the contract lasts and better protected if they cannot repay the loan, under a provisional deal struck by Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee MEPs and EU member state representatives on Monday. To become law, this deal must be approved by Parliament as a whole and endorsed by the member states.
MEP Sharon Bowles, Chair of the European Parliament's economic and monetary affairs committee welcomes the agreement on Cyprus, particularly the recognition that banks can fail and that the deposit guarantee principle must be upheld.