A long overdue step in the right direction: that is how most MEPs assessed the results of the European Council on 28-29 June. Plans agreed at the summit include a compact for growth earmarking €120 billion to support growth in the EU, a single supervisory mechanism for European banks and a possibility of their direct recapitalisation. However, MEPs warn that in order to truly overcome the crisis, the EU will need to quickly adopt concrete legislation.
Sense of urgency
June's Council summit was debated by MEPs during a plenary session in Strasbourg on 3 July. Council president Herman Van Rompuy told the Parliament that member states made decisions that will stabilise the markets, enhance growth and stabilise the monetary union. The aim is to avoid that the recapitalisation of banks will aggravate member states' public debt situation. Mr Van Rompuy also said that the EU's budget for 2014-2020 should support economic growth and the creation of new jobs.
European Commission president José Manuel Barroso added that a sense of urgency was very present at the Council summit. The Commission has always emphasized that consolidation must be accompanied by sustainable growth: "solidarity with responsibility". The debate on growth, however, cannot be separated from the debate on the EU's long-term budget framework, Mr Barroso warned, calling for a deal by the end of the year.
The Commission president stressed that the European banking union is an indispensable step towards progressing towards a true economic and monetary union. Meanwhile the Parliament should be closely involved in any discussions of the EU's future in order to safeguard its democratic legitimacy, he said.
Joseph Daul, the French leader of the EPP group in Parliamentm said: "The roadmap towards political integration in Europe is hardly ready, but of course a certain progress has been achieved this time. The economic country-specific recommendations made by the Commission and the document presented by Mr Van Rompuy goes in the right direction because it finally points out a political Europe as being the ultimate goal."
Hannes Swoboda, the Austrian leader of the Social-Democrat group, said: "We have to change, otherwise Europe will die as a whole. There is light at the end of the tunnel." Talking about Finnish and Dutch reservations about the deals, he said that the prime ministers have to sign what they said in Brussels. He reiterated the need for a common banking supervisor.
Guy Verhofstadt, the Belgian leader of the ALDE group, welcomed the Council's decisions, as they bought some time, but at the same time urged concrete and immediate action. By September, the Commission should come forward with a legislative package on creating a real banking union and an integrated budgetary framework with a redemption fund.
Rebecca Harms, the German co-chair of the Greens group, said the European Council had understood that the EU is dealing with a currency crisis, not a state-debt crisis. She said the euro could work if there was a common fiscal policy, a common supervision and a banking union.
Martin Callanan, a British member of the ECR group, said the Council showed that even for eurozone countries the mentality is still one of maximising national interests. "I fully support national governments fighting their corner but the euro was never a tool aimed at helping countries to defend their national interests."
Gabriele Zimmer, a German member of the GUE/NGL group, said: " We can not just go from summit to summit, you have to look at people across the European Union that have elected the members of the European Parliament and let them debate."
Nigel Farage, the British leader of the EFD group pointed out that this was the 19th summit on the crisis. He said that although it was labelled a breakthrough afterwards, there is nobody who believes it. The bail out stability mechanism has failed before it has started as it is not credible. In his view the euro crisis is insoluble and it is aggravated by lack of leadership.