European Council President Herman Van Rompuy came in for heavy criticism Tuesday morning when he reported back to MEPs on the results of the EU summit of 24-25 March. MEPs said measures agreed to improve Europe's economy were inadequate, while his claim that the EU has a common stance on Libya was dismissed.
Mr Van Rompuy's proposition that the summit was an important step forward in resolving the economic crisis because leaders had given the final go-ahead for a "significant" package of economic measures to preserve the euro zone's financial stability and strengthen economic governance, got short shrift from Liberal group leader Guy Verhofstadt. "These measures won't resolve the crisis...they are stopgaps. €400 billion has already been invested in the crisis but it still hasn't been resolved."
Socialist group chair Martin Schulz was equally critical, asking why the European Council hadn't come up with the measures a year ago. Both Mr Schulz and Mr Verhofstadt said economic governance was a hostage to national interests and warned that the crisis won't be resolved until the banking sector has been cleaned up.
Daniel Cohn-Bendit, co-chair of the Greens/EFA asked what the economic governance measures really mean for citizens and said the money used so far wasn't well spent. "We spent a lot of money creating what? Inequalities …"
However, Joseph Daul, chair of the EPP, was more positive. "The decisions on economic issues will help our countries to move forward on the right path."
He said that the agreement on the Euro Plus Pact, which is on top of other economic measures and involves the euro zone countries, plus Bulgaria, Denmark, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Romania in increased economic coordination with the aim of improving competitiveness, "is extremely significant as it shows that there is a will among European leaders to draw lessons from the financial and economic crisis."
For the ECR group, Jan Zahradil feared the crisis would be exploited to encourage a move to tax harmonisation and a tax union.
Member states criticised on Libya
Mr Schulz said the lack of consensus between France and Germany on Libya shows "you don't have everything under control," while, Mr Cohn-Bendit criticised the EU for not sticking to its rules on international trade. "What is the value of human rights clauses? Null."
A number of MEPs criticised the behaviour of member states. Lothar Bisky, for the GUE/NGL group said, the EU is in a macabre situation in Libya, where Gaddafi is "a dictator fighting demonstrators with weapons that he bought from us."
Godfrey Bloom, speaking for the EFD group, asked, "when did we realise that Gaddafi is an evil man...it was well-known but he has oil and money, so we turned a blind eye."