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Procedure : 2012/2151(INL)
Document stages in plenary
Document selected : A7-0339/2012

Texts tabled :

A7-0339/2012

Debates :

PV 20/11/2012 - 3
CRE 20/11/2012 - 3

Votes :

PV 20/11/2012 - 6.19
Explanations of votes
Explanations of votes

Texts adopted :

P7_TA(2012)0430

Debates
Tuesday, 20 November 2012 - Strasbourg OJ edition

3. Towards a genuine Economic and Monetary Union (debate)
Video of the speeches
PV
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  President. − The next item is the report by Marianne Thyssen, on behalf of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs, on the report with recommendations to the Commission on the report of the Presidents of the European Council, the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the Eurogroup ‘Towards a genuine Economic and Monetary Union’ (2012/2151(INI)) (A7-0339/2012).

 
  
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  Marianne Thyssen, rapporteur. − (NL) Mr President, President-in-Office of the Council, Commissioner, ladies and gentlemen, when we speak today about the completion of economic and monetary union we are not holding a technical debate but a political debate. What we are doing today is making fundamental choices for the Europe that we wish to bequeath to our children and grandchildren tomorrow.

In the short term the interests of our Member States may well differ, but in the long term they will of course be in line with each other. As Members of the European Parliament we have a moral duty to think and to act for the long term in order to give Europeans decent opportunities in the future.

Moreover, we must approach this in such a way that our citizens are involved, because in the end they are the ones and the only ones that legitimise our policies. That, ladies and gentlemen, is what is at stake in the debate that we are conducting here today. The key words for me are crystal clear: hope and confidence. The confidence must return because business people and families must dare to invest and banks must again dare to lend money because the economic engine must start up once again to create growth and jobs.

We must also give people hope. There are prospects for improvement. We shall come out of this crisis stronger but only if we act courageously, decisively and energetically.

In this report we are giving an unambiguous signal to the heads of state or government. Each of the four pillars of the Van Rompuy roadmap must be very ambitious. In this way we shall show that European banking supervision really must come about and that the two proposals for regulations must be treated as one legislative package on which we can jointly decide via the ordinary legislative procedure. We shall demonstrate that supervision must be high quality within a European mechanism with accountability to the parliaments; that the Member States that participate must mandatorily or via an opt-in have equal rights in the supervisory board of such a mechanism; and that we as Parliament will perform our work on time so that hopefully by 1 January we can officially launch this mechanism.

The legislative proposals concerning deposit guarantees and a common framework for the resolution and restructuring of banks, the two other pillars of the banking union, must be dealt with as a priority. Afterwards we can look further into whether it is necessary (and in what sense) to work towards more European systems.

Then there is of course budgetary union, Mr President, which is not unimportant, because structurally healthy public finances are stimulating and absolutely vital. As far as budgetary union is concerned, in the first instance we must stand by and implement everything we have already decided here, that is to say: the six-pack. As it depends upon us, this week the two-pack trilogue negotiations must be finalised. Work must also be carried out with regard to income. The coordination of taxes must be looked at, tax fraud must of course be combated and damaging tax competition must be cleared up. The rapid introduction of the financial transaction tax (FTT) and the common consolidated corporate tax base (CCCTB), whether or not by means of closer cooperation, is essential. Parliament may find itself in the situation of a gradual transition to a debt discharge fund where the strict conditions required are satisfied, because in that regard we cannot afford to take any risks.

Through a stronger economic union we must of course complete all this so that we really aim for sustainable economic growth with more job opportunities and greater social cohesion. We now need structural reform in order to be able to reap the rewards in the future. There must be a better business climate, there must be a point to investment, the internal market must be completed, there must be a mid-term review of the Europe 2020 strategy and we must of course request that greater attention be paid, which we are in fact doing, to a number of basic social principles that we have set out in a social pact.

Now we come to the fourth pillar: democratic accountability and transparency. This is naturally of vital importance, because without democratic foundations no policy will stand up in the long term. Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, what we need to do today must not be delayed. We shall today make clear choices and the rest is up to the heads of state or government.

 
  
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  Loucas Louca, President-in-Office of the Council. (EL). Mr President, honourable Members of the European Parliament, I would like to begin by thanking you for giving me the opportunity to take part in this important debate.

I would especially like to thank Ms Thyssen for her report and for the valuable contribution it makes to the ongoing process of deepening economic and monetary union. As you know, this process began with the European Council’s decision in June, which called upon the President of the European Council to work in close collaboration with the President of the Commission, the President of the Eurogroup and the President of the European Central Bank on the development of a specific and time-bound road map for the achievement of genuine economic and monetary union (EMU). It is expected that this road map will be presented to the European Council in December. As part of the process of preparing for the December meeting, we paid serious attention to the various issues raised in Ms Thyssen’s report on each of the four pillars, namely the financial, fiscal and economic pillars and the pillar of democratic legitimacy. I know that President Van Rompuy informed you about the outcome of the discussions on the European Council’s interim report in October. You are therefore well aware of the progress achieved to date. I would like to remind you briefly of some of the main points in each of the four constituent elements of EMU. The creation of a banking union is a key element in the creation of a genuine EMU. There is a clear need to strengthen the European Union’s banking sector and to move towards a unified banking framework which will be as open as possible to Member States that wish to participate. Our aim is to increase stability and ensure sustainable prosperity. Developments in recent years have shown that high-quality bank supervision is of the utmost importance, together with a single rule book to support it. We have all been called upon to work towards an agreement, before the end of the year, on the legal framework for one of the basic components of the single supervisory mechanism. The Presidency intends to make every possible effort to fulfil this remit, and I am sure we all share this ambition. It is important, of course, that we should ensure a level playing field, both for Member States participating in the single supervisory mechanism and for non-participating states, while fully respecting the integrity of the single market in the financial services sector. A balanced and acceptable solution is needed regarding these changes to voting arrangements and decisions by the European Banking Authority, taking account of possible changes to participation in the single supervisory mechanism. It is necessary to ensure non-discriminatory and effective decision-making within the single market. The discussions in the Council have shown that there is groundswell from Member States and that Member States are willing to reach a balanced agreement. This is very positive. We are also going ahead with the work on parts of the single rule book, including the aim of achieving an agreement on the revised capital requirements and achieving significant progress on the proposal on bank recovery and resolution before the end of the Cyprus Presidency. As regards fiscal and economic deepening, much has already been achieved. We must implement and use the tools agreed in the package of six legislative acts, within the framework of the European Semester, with the special recommendations for each country, as well as the tools agreed in the Treaty on Stability, Coordination and Governance in the Economic and Monetary Union. Additionally, the package of two legislative acts (the ‘two-pack’), which is under negotiation, should further improve economic governance and financial stability in the euro area. The Council modified its position on the two-pack last week. I believe this will help us to reach an agreement with the European Parliament, with a view to approving the proposals before the end of the year. In the long term, we must further broaden EMU if we wish to ensure stability and sustainable prosperity. In October, President Van Rompuy was invited, with the other Presidents, to examine ideas such as the potential for financial capacity and the conclusion of contractual arrangements between Member States and the institutional bodies of the European Union, with regard to the reforms which are specified in the special recommendations for each country. Democratic legitimacy and accountability will be crucial to the success of EMU. We must respect the basic principle that democratic scrutiny must be carried out at the level at which decisions are taken. This entails closer cooperation between national parliaments and the European Parliament. At the same time, the procedure for further integration must be built on the institutional and legal framework of the European Union, and this framework must remain open and transparent for all the Member States. Mr President, honourable Members, I look forward to hearing your views and I shall be pleased to pass on to President Van Rompuy the issues which are raised here today. I also know that the President of the European Parliament has the opportunity to exchange views on this subject in the course of his contacts with the other Presidents. I look forward, and shall be giving close attention, to your contribution to this process. We greatly appreciate the opportunity you are giving us to discuss the issue this morning.

 
  
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  Michel Barnier, Member of the Commission. − (FR) Mr President, honourable Members, good morning to you all. I would like, first of all, to give apologies on behalf of Commissioner Rehn, who has been detained in Brussels this morning by an important Eurogroup meeting on Greece, and who has asked me to speak for him, though on matters which, in part, also fall within my own areas of responsibility.

Firstly, thanks to Ms Thyssen for this report, and to the other honourable Members concerned, including all of the committees working across this area – namely, the Committees on Economic and Monetary Affairs, Constitutional Affairs, Employment and Social Affairs and Budgets – for their collective work. I am also aware, Ms Thyssen, of the very significant work you have undertaken, together with Mr Giegold, on one of the aspects which concerns us most directly: strengthening economic and monetary union, that is to say, establishing – we now hope speedily – a European supervisory mechanism for the banking sector as a whole.

Your report provides the Commission with specific recommendations on the report of the four Presidents on framing a genuine economic and monetary union. Ms Thyssen, your contribution is very substantial but also – at this moment – particularly timely. The European Union is facing major challenges, which largely stem from the financial crisis originating in the United States, from the economic and social crisis that has accompanied that financial crisis, like our own budgetary crisis, and from sovereign debt.

These crises call for specific responses, particularly in the area of finance – and that sums up what we are doing together with an extremely tight agenda: 28 regulatory laws have been put before you in the last two and a half years – but also, over and above the specific responses, broader, more global responses, since these crises have brought to light certain weaknesses and inadequacies in economic and monetary union.

This is all to restore what you yourself expressed in two key words, Ms Thyssen: trust and hope. These are responses which the Commission has been trying to propose for more than three years, led by José Manuel Barroso, our President, with your highly vigilant support, never too accommodating but always active.

In this context, the Commission is particularly determined to propose every appropriate measure for framing a genuine economic and monetary union which functions better and is resilient to crises. We have already made great strides in this direction over recent years: the six-pack and the two-pack, prepared by Commissioner Rehn, form a set of rules enabling economic governance of the euro area to be strengthened considerably. I am also thinking of the proposals for a banking union. We must go further, however, and act more globally: in the coming days the Commission will propose a blueprint presenting the features of a deeper economic and monetary union, as well as the tools and instruments we need to realise this project.

In the light of these challenges and this ambition, I would first like to emphasise the very broad convergence of the views you express in this report and our own analyses and the Commission’s proposals. We share the same desire to act immediately and in a large number of specific areas – where there is, in fact, a need to go further – these areas being well identified in your report and essential if we want to strengthen economic and monetary union.

Lastly, and most significantly, we come together on the importance of speedy adoption of the texts currently being negotiated in Parliament and the Council. The two-pack on strengthening economic governance; the single supervisory mechanism; the establishment of a single European framework to prevent and resolve crises – Ms Thyssen, you referred to these – they are two texts I presented, the first a year and a half ago on deposit guarantees, for which Mr Simon is rapporteur, and the second on resolution of banking crises, for which Mr Hökmark is rapporteur. The latter text has also been under discussion for more than seven months now. Then, lastly, Capital Requirements Directive IV, with which many of you are involved and which is currently being finalised by means of very active trialogues. It is both important and necessary for us to find solid compromises on these various texts and, in that regard, I would like to thank Mr Louca for the commitment and pro-active approach shown by the Cyprus Presidency in relation to all of these texts. We must strengthen the current legislative framework in this way and show that European commitments lead to results, and, quite simply, that we are doing what we said we would to tackle these crises, at the last European Council of 29 June in particular. It is also a matter of credibility and trust, which we must regain. We must also ensure that texts intended to strengthen economic and monetary union are fully consistent with proper functioning of the single market; as far as possible, they must also be open to the other Member States which have not, or have not yet, joined the economic and monetary union and the euro. That is another concern I want to deal with in the context of integrated supervision.

Honourable Members, I would now like, on behalf of Commissioner Rehn, to touch on the proposals your report makes in three areas.

Firstly, your report is right to highlight the strengthening of democratic legitimacy. As co-legislator, Parliament naturally has a decisive part to play in designing the regulatory framework governing economic and monetary union. The responsibility of euro area decision-makers to Parliament is just as important. Here the key principle is that democratic responsibility must be exercised at the level at which the decision is taken. When the decision is European, democratic responsibility must, indeed, be exercised at European level. Your report also proposes a greater mandatory presence of the Commission and the production of regular reports for Parliament. The Commission, honourable Members, of course recognises the importance of transparency and involving Parliament.

That said, if we want an effective system of accountability, we must ensure that those accountable to Parliament are indeed those politically accountable for policy decisions and their implementation. In short, in the context of economic dialogue it is the Vice-President for Economic and Monetary Affairs and for the euro who is politically accountable. Today, therefore, it is Commissioner Rehn who will continue to respond to Parliament as much as you wish. This political accountability must not give way to a situation where Commission technical staff are directly accountable to Parliament.

Secondly, the report also advocates an enhanced role for Parliament in coordinating economic policies in the context of the European Semester, particularly at the time the annual growth survey is being drawn up. I would also like to remind you that the Commission presents its proposals for the annual priorities of the European Semester in its annual growth survey. In line with your request, the request made in your report, Ms Thyssen, this year the survey will be published at the same time as the report on the alert mechanism. The annual growth survey is therefore a Commission communication and its presentation arises naturally from the latter’s right of initiative. It is essential for Parliament and the Council to express their views on the Commission’s proposals once they have been published, in a process of political debate on future priorities.

Another important aspect concerns transparency and democratic accountability in the context of the European Semester: Parliament has the opportunity – introduced by the six-pack – to conduct economic dialogues with the other institutions and the Member States. The Commission supports Parliament’s active use of economic dialogue and would welcome even more active use of it.

Lastly, when reflecting on the stages needed to complete economic and monetary union, I think it is very important that we make use of all possibilities offered by the current Treaty, but that does not prevent us from identifying what might ultimately require changing in the Treaty. We are pleased that Parliament takes the view that the current Treaties do in fact leave us wide room for action and manoeuvre, which we use.

Mr President, honourable Members, overall, Ms Thyssen’s report attests to a broad convergence of views with the Commission, something that does not surprise us. We all share the same key political goal – which is the main thing our compatriots, our citizens, expect – of providing a genuine global response to the current crises by doing what we have decided, and perhaps going further, by consolidating our economic and monetary union once and for all. The key thing, in my view – Ms Thyssen said it, as did Mr Louca – is the substance, the essence of the reforms we have begun together to increase the competitiveness of the European economy, financial stability, and, ultimately, trust.

 
  
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  Pervenche Berès, rapporteur for the opinion of the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs. − (FR) Mr President, Commissioner, the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs sees this end-of-year meeting as of major significance, since in order to achieve a genuine economic and monetary union we must revisit its foundations, which clearly did not withstand the crisis in which we find ourselves.

The work done by this Parliament, under the responsibility of Ms Thyssen – whom we all thank for the excellent quality of the work – is meant to make clear, to define, Parliament’s position with a view to this major European Council meeting in December. I am therefore surprised by the absence of Herman Van Rompuy, its President, for whom this work is intended.

In addition, I consider that the result of our vote here will give our sherpas a mandate to represent us in the negotiations in preparation for this work. We also consider that this meeting cannot be downplayed or underestimated in the light of the negotiations on the multiannual financial framework. Rewriting a genuine economic and monetary union must remain the priority.

In this area, it is necessary to raise the social issue: we have been greatly struck by the fact that the document put on the table by Mr Van Rompuy in June defines four pillars, without ever mentioning the social dimension. Yet if you look at the Treaty of Maastricht, if you look at the current state of economic and monetary union, it is obvious that there is an imbalance between the economic policies defined in Article 121 and the employment policies defined in Article 148. However, if you rebuild economic and monetary union on the basis of Mr Van Rompuy’s proposals, without taking account of this original balance, you will destabilise the entire mechanism.

Moreover, Parliament, our Committee on Employment and Social Affairs, also sets great store by parliamentary control, democratic control, and therefore the chance for Parliament to participate, under the ordinary legislative procedure, in the Annual Growth Survey establishing the framework for this European Semester.

A final point, Mr President, to highlight an element not mentioned often enough. If we want the troikas to succeed, they must be expanded to include the International Labour Organisation (ILO), which has today denounced the failure to abide by the ILO fundamental conventions in Greece, following the work of the troika. A genuine economic and monetary union cannot ignore the very foundations of the European social model.

 
  
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  Roberto Gualtieri, rapporteur for the opinion of the Committee on Constitutional Affairs. (IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, the fundamental message of this report is that a single currency cannot simply be a system of rules but requires proper economic governance, with its own resources and full democratic legitimacy. A genuine Economic and Monetary Union should therefore be based on the EU institutions, around which a true European political space should take shape.

Consequently, an increased role for Parliament is not a case of empire-building but is an essential condition for giving legitimacy and strength to the governance of the euro. However, we believe that a loose federation, based on a clear definition of roles, resources and powers between the EU and the Member States, would be more effective and democratic and, at the same time, more respectful of the national parliaments’ prerogatives than the model that has taken shape in recent years. Because of this, we support the idea of stronger fiscal powers based on own resources, the embryo of a proper European Treasury, provided that this operates within the EU budget and is based on additional resources.

For this reason we believe that the ex ante coordination of economic policies can be increased and must involve Parliament on a different basis from the contract-based model indicated in the interim report. Because of this we believe that implementing common debt management mechanisms at EU level is unavoidable.

So this means reinforced governance, but also different policies. Budgetary discipline should be accompanied by countercyclical measures that can guarantee a suitable role for public investment, and the protection and revitalisation of the European social model should become an integral part of the governance of the euro, a genuine ‘fifth pillar’ based on a social pact that prioritises youth and employment. With this report, Parliament is therefore promoting an ambitious vision and a clear and realistic roadmap. Firstly, full use should be made of the broad margins for manoeuvre offered by the Treaties; in the next parliamentary term, boosted by enhanced legitimacy from Parliament and the Commission, through the mechanism by which the European parties choose the candidate to be chair, a Convention should be set up that completes the process of building proper economic and democratic governance of the euro, which is essential if the crisis is to be overcome and Europe saved.

 
  
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  Corien Wortmann-Kool, on behalf of the PPE Group. – (NL) Mr President, I should like to thank Ms Thyssen for her detailed report. She has brought together a broad range of ideas that are represented within the groups in this Parliament. It is now important to make sound priorities for the forthcoming period.

In his interim report President Van Rompuy has made an important first move and it must now be seen how we can build on this further. It also means, though, that in the short term we must take important decisions – as Ms Thyssen has already said, the two-pack. We shall do our very best to wrap this up before Christmas this year. On behalf of our group I should like to emphasise further three priorities.

First of all, banking union, with direct banking supervision at the European Central Bank and strengthening, not weakening, of the role of the European Banking Authority. Banks must once again be able to provide businesses with adequate loans. Banking union is crucial to restore confidence in our banking sector but that does require an ambitious European perspective. It means that all banks must come under one European regulator. It also means that we must not go for a two-tier arrangement of euro area/non-euro area, but the model must be attractive to make people want to join in; that is to say 27- instead of 17+.

Secondly, strengthening of the economic administration in Europe. That is necessary to increase the competitiveness of our social market economy. It requires a more binding Europe 2020 agenda, geared towards innovation, growth and jobs.

Thirdly, the importance of strengthening democracy within Europe, strengthening the role of the European Parliament and the national parliaments. There are good proposals in Ms Thyssen’s report that I am also happy to emphasise.

 
  
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  Liem Hoang Ngoc, on behalf of the S&D Group. – (FR) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, the euro area is again entering recession. The exit strategy advocated by the Council and the Commission until last June has plunged us into crisis. Euroscepticism is gaining ground.

In this context, the Van Rompuy report, which must define the next stage of economic and monetary union, has particular significance. Sadly, the Council has refused to involve Parliament fully in drafting this roadmap. Ms Thyssen’s report is therefore the opportunity for Parliament to invite itself to the debate in order to send a strong message.

I salute the remarkable work done by Ms Thyssen, who has demonstrated the sort of constructive attitude that shows our fellow citizens that Parliamentary debate has a point. The point of this debate is to take stock of the levers so desperately lacking for the functioning of economic and monetary union.

Firstly, an integrated banking union is needed to control the banks, guarantee deposits and resolve crises without taxpayers again having to foot the bill.

Secondly, a budgetary union is needed, within which the serious budgetary approach of Member States is matched by support for sustainable development on a European scale. This union must be given a budgetary capacity fuelled by new own resources, allocation of which must be debated within the framework of the Union method, this being the only way to guarantee solidarity among the 27 Member States.

Thirdly, a genuine democratic leap is needed, without which transfers of sovereignty will continue to be seen by our fellow citizens as so many powers commandeered by bureaucrats. Parliament, as the main agent of representative democracy, must therefore play a part at each stage of the European Semester. Parliament must be involved in the functioning of the European stability mechanism. Parliament must be able to monitor the troika, particularly when the International Monetary Fund itself declares that the troika has made a serious error.

Last but not least, a social – fifth – pillar is needed to guarantee wage standards, preventing structural reforms from causing a recessionary spiral. A social pillar to prevent budgetary discipline from reducing the quality of public services and social protection. A social pillar to encourage integration of young people into the labour market and access to housing for all. A social pillar to reassure our fellow citizens, for whom Europe is synonymous with saving the banks on the one hand, but worsening most people’s circumstances on the other.

That is the strong mandate that Parliament must give its President on the eve of the November and December Council meetings. The Council will hear this message even more clearly if tomorrow it receives – thanks to you, ladies and gentlemen– the largest possible majority.

 
  
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  Sophia in 't Veld, on behalf of the ALDE Group. – Mr President, first of all I would like to express my gratitude to the rapporteur, who did a magnificent job.

I would like to start by addressing the so-called fourth pillar, democratic legitimacy, because I think that this is an issue which is under-exposed. In my view we do not only have an economic crisis, a banking crisis and a debt crisis; we have a democratic crisis, and the issue of democratic legitimacy is not a nice little extra that we can do once the economic crisis is over.

No, democratic legitimacy is a precondition for solving the situation we are in. In this respect I have to say that I am extremely worried when I see that the European Union has taken major steps ahead over the last three years, but in an increasingly undemocratic, non-transparent way; increasingly intergovernmental and increasingly outside any Treaty structures. It is not even intergovernmental anymore. That is not the way to go.

If we want to solve the situation, if we want to make that leap ahead into the future, then the democratic crisis is the first thing that we need to solve and I think there are some interesting elements in the report. I think one of the things that we need to look at very closely is individual accountability of European Commissioners, accountability before this Parliament.

A second issue that we need to look at again – which is not a nice luxury extra – is transparency. In a democratic political union, transparency is key to accountability. So far we have worked under the diplomatic method with the tradition of diplomatic discretion, but now we need transparency, we need openness, we need to enable citizens to watch what we are doing.

Parliament, too, should look very closely at the way it organises its work. We should enable ourselves to exercise meaningful parliamentary scrutiny, and I would like to add here as well that although Parliament should reflect the cultural diversity of Europe, we should not actually be speaking on behalf of the Member States. We are here to defend the general European interest and as I listen to the debates here I occasionally detect hints of nationalism.

Finally about banking supervision: I would still like to emphasise that although there is a need to move quickly to set up the banking union, we all know, as we are working on the proposals, that they are not sufficient in the long term. I think that we need, now already, to have a long-term perspective, because we know that the ECB cannot cover everything. It cannot cover the non-euro area countries; it cannot cover the non-banking sector; and I have too my question marks over the concentration of power. So I do think that we need a roadmap towards adequate and democratic banking supervision.

(The speaker agreed to take a blue-card question under Rule 149(8))

 
  
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  Krisztina Morvai (NI), blue-card question. – You said that we should not talk on behalf of our nation states but on behalf of the whole of Europe. What is your advice to me if I come from a Member State where workers make about EUR 250 to 300 a month without any labour protection, in factories owned by, for example, your Member State and other ‘old’ Member States? Do you think we can all speak the same language? Do you not see that there are considerable differences when we speak on behalf of our nation states? What is your advice to me in that regard?

 
  
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  Sophia in 't Veld (ALDE), blue-card answer. – Ms Morvai, I think it is a bit outside the scope of this debate, but nevertheless. I am not an ambassador for my country, I am an elected representative. I was elected on a political programme in order to represent a political view of Europe. There are compatriots of mine who were elected on a different political programme. There are some political parties in the government of my country that I may disagree with, so how could I speak on behalf of my whole country? I think we all have different political views here; we represent the interests of all European citizens, including the ones living in your country. That is the way I see it.

 
  
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  Philippe Lamberts, on behalf of the Verts/ALE Group. – Mr President, I think it is now clear to all of us why we talk of ‘four Presidents’ and not ‘five Presidents minus one’. They did not want to involve Parliament because of a clear understanding of the difference between a Van Rompuy paper, which becomes more evanescent with every version, and the one submitted by Ms Thyssen on behalf of us all. The difference in ambition is blindingly obvious. Clearly, either Parliament would have very much regretted finding itself in a gathering of Presidents ultimately very lacking in ambition or it would have struggled to make its voice heard, since its level of ambition clearly placed it in a minority.

As Ms Thyssen clearly stated, Europe needs a federal leap. None of us will get out of this on our own, not even Germany! I hope the current economic downturn, also affecting Germany, will help our German friends to realise we are all in this together.

Ms Thyssen shows ambition on all aspects of what this federal Europe must become. As regards the budget aspect, she dares, on behalf of all of us, to challenge a number of taboos and, in particular, to make it clear that it is absolutely essential that we work not just on budgetary spending but also on revenue, and that we cannot ensure adequate budgetary revenue without moving from a competitive approach to one of cooperation. The same is true on the issue of pooling debt, this clearly being an expression which Herman Van Rompuy is no longer able to write. He must have forgotten how to spell it or what it means. In any case, Parliament dares to write it in its report. It is an absolute necessity.

In terms of economic union, we see Parliament clearly coming out in favour of stimulating investment in Europe. How else are we to understand this idea of making the goals of the Europe 2020 strategy more binding, it being nothing other than the European Union’s investment strategy? I am very glad that Ms Wortmann-Kool herself emphasised the need to act in this direction. We cannot, in my view, have an economic policy without a highly robust investment aspect. Similarly, a solid European budget, a European budget with its own resources, is just one element of this investment strategy. That is another statement that is completely taboo in other circles. We will see what this week’s Council brings. As regards banking union, Ms Thyssen points out, on our behalf, that we cannot design a banking union without establishing a single regime for resolving banking crises and compensating depositors.

Where a taboo is really broken is on the issue of social union. It is true that this is a difficult topic: we all have different histories in terms of social security and protection arrangements, but this report states the need for a form of social convergence, though not a race to the bottom. This, in my view, is another sign of ambition on the part of Parliament.

Lastly, democratic union. This is the area where we were expecting the ‘five Presidents minus one’, who already gave us two reports before the summer, in which the democratic chapter became more diluted each time. There is now no trace of it, whereas in Parliament’s report we do not simply say that it would be good for Parliament to have occasional exchanges with national parliaments. This text proposes giving Parliament, the Parliament of the European Union and of the euro area, real powers to take decisions and shape the broad lines of European economic and social policy.

I would simply like to close by saying that we do not have much time. Today, one European in four is at risk of poverty and social exclusion. One in four of our fellow citizens! The speaker from Hungary reminded us of that fact. Destroying the social fabric has its consequences. If you add to that the reminder from the World Bank this week – to the effect that we are in the process of bursting the planet in terms of its physical limits – and the fact that climate change carries inherent risks for humanity’s existence, I think we have to realise that we do not have much time and must act now. We know that otherwise we run the risk of seeing this continent simply descending into violence.

 
  
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  Ivo Strejček, on behalf of the ECR Group. - (CS) Mr President, there is no point in going into fine detail in today’s debate, but we should critically evaluate and analyse the whole concept of a banking union from a political point of view. I would like to add four observations.

Firstly, the creation of a banking union is not an economic solution to the economic difficulties facing the European Union. The essence of the economic difficulties is the high and unmanageable public debts and the associated failure of governments to cope with this reality with their respective policies. Therefore the fact is, with regard to the banking union, that it would only open the way to the recapitalisation of the banks from the European Stability Mechanism, which is not a solution to this situation.

Secondly, the banking union is not based on the current legal status of the European Union; it is a sudden project, not an evolutionary one, and it is a project that only enforces and prejudges a new system of governance. Advocates of a banking union themselves admit that their performance is subject to the completion of a fiscal union, elimination of tax competition, and harmonisation of taxes and the budgets of the Member States. This is not possible without a political union, however, and this has been admitted by representatives of the European Commission, including both President Barroso and Ms Reding. We do not want such a union.

Thirdly, the banking union, if launched in the proposed format, will not be a project that would connect and further integrate the European Union; it will be a project which will divide and, in effect, deepen existing economic, social and social-structural cracks. This could be dangerous for Europe in the future.

Fourthly, and I think this should have been top of the list because it is a fundamental concern: a democratic mandate to create a disputed project must be thoroughly consulted on with citizens of the Member States, and based on what they want. If not, and if the banking union is created contrary to public opinion, it will be a problem rather than the solution.

 
  
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  Sampo Terho, on behalf of the EFD Group. – (FI) Mr President, we are now discussing a very important report, of which, however, people in the Member States remain unaware; in my own country, for example, the Finnish media have hardly even referred to it.

For this reason, I am concerned about the same issue as many other representatives here, the Commission and the Council – in other words, that of democracy. The report promotes a clear advance towards a federal Europe, as regards both the concrete proposals and the principles which it sets out. I quote from the text of the report: ‘The intergovernmental method has reached its limits and is not well suited for democratic and efficient decision-making in the 21st century. A leap should be made to a truly federal Europe.’ There is thus no ambiguity regarding the report’s vision for the future of the EU and of Europe. In this respect the report sits entirely in line with that tidal wave of new regulation which has followed the euro crisis.

Therefore, in order to promote civic debate and to ensure the genuine support of citizens, it is important for national referendums on the trend towards a federal Europe to be arranged. Mere discussion in Parliament is not sufficient. We need to receive direct support from the people, since if the people do not give their direct support for this move towards a federal Europe then their alienation from the EU can only continue, even while the integration of the EU ostensibly deepens. If this happens, then future national referendums will no longer be concerned with integration but with leaving the EU.

 
  
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  Marisa Matias, on behalf of the GUE/NGL Group. – (PT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, in fact recent years have shown us that the Economic and Monetary Union has failed to withstand the crisis. They have also shown us that we had a European institutional architecture full of holes, in particular the institutional framework of the euro. That is why, when it comes to ambition, the report and the proposal presented here are a cut above the proposal presented by the governments.

However, as the rapporteur said, we are faced with policy choices, so I should like to explain why we have some reservations and cannot support this report.

The first concerns questions bound up with the conditions. We can see that we shall still have a scenario where there can only be solidarity between the various countries when we have achieved all aspects of the Stability and Growth Pact, the Intergovernmental Agreement, the Euro Plus Pact and a series of measures imposing nothing less than massive doses of austerity in peripheral areas and also a series of recessive measures that, as we have seen, are not working.

A second reason has to do with the banking union. The rapporteur, quite rightly, sets out the banking supervision mechanism, but it is so necessary that we cannot escape the essential and it is the essential which is escaping here, insofar as we are continuing to put together a patchwork of national systems, which means that we are all together on banking policy, we are all together on banking supervision, but we are all divided when something goes wrong and, therefore, the taxpayers will continue to pay the price.

And a third point has to do with the question of common debt and the issuing of Eurobonds. Here, once again, the possibility of debt issuance is being considered but only when it is already too late. We need common debt issuance now, not only once the excessive deficits and debts have been set right, since with the policies we are following they will never be put right; on the contrary, they will be ever more exacerbated to the despair of a whole series of communities.

For this reason, Mr President, I should like to end by saying that, despite all the efforts, I think we have here a very clear example that united we could still stand, but divided we shall surely fall, which is why it was important to have gone even further.

 
  
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  Auke Zijlstra (NI). – (NL) Mr President, 15 years ago the Member States were experiencing prosperity, peace and mutual understanding. Now we are experiencing increasing poverty, riots and empty promises. Everyone outside Brussels understands that Europe has taken a wrong turning.

Despite that this Parliament wants to continue going down this path. Parliament wishes for a genuine monetary union in which the budgetary power of the Member States and thus their sovereignty disappear, a banking union where the door is open to recapitalise bankrupt banks via the European Stability Mechanism, with supervision through Brussels, which a year ago still called Dexia an excellent bank, and finally a transfer union in which northern taxpayers have to pay in perpetuity not only for their own social system but also for that of other countries. Everyone will end up poorer because of this.

Mr President, sovereignty is something to be proud of and not a historical error. If this report is accepted, it will be because according to good socialist custom there are more profiteers than payers. I, though, shall vote against it. We must endeavour to achieve prosperity for everyone and not to redistribute poverty.

 
  
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  Alfredo Pallone (PPE).(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, the European Council in June identified what we need, and that is: more Europe. In addition to this, it also identified four important areas that we should be working on to ensure we have stable Economic and Monetary Union: in brief, integration. All those who have spoken so far have listed a series of problems, one of which – one of these areas we should be working on – is the need for greater democracy. I would make this the top priority, followed by an integrated financial framework, a single budgetary framework and a single economic and monetary policy framework.

These four conditions are necessary to make progress along the road to greater European integration. The purpose of this report by Ms Thyssen is to express Parliament’s opinion, and that is only right. However, the report was also an opportunity for the various political groups to express their opinions and voice their concerns, and these were turned into a significant number of amendments. I congratulate Ms Thyssen, who has done an excellent job of drafting compromises and managing to find a solution that is as widely supported as possible.

I realise that there is uncertainty and that there are differing positions, but we must work together to find a framework that is as balanced as possible. Most of the concerns, though not all of them, are about the single supervisory mechanism for banking. I therefore maintain that we need to act quickly and send a clear message from Parliament to the Commission and Council. We really need to emphasise that the areas identified in June must be dealt with if we are to have a stronger European Union that can guarantee economic growth and more jobs, especially for the younger generations, because that is the challenge facing us.

 
  
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  Elisa Ferreira (S&D). - (PT) Mr President, Europe and the euro area have lost their vision of their future. This report tries to rediscover that vision and for that I welcome it. To that end, this Parliament’s position as regards the report drawn up by Ms Thyssen will have to be taken into account in the final text in December.

Very briefly, as regards its main pillars, I should like to stress the following. As regards banking union: this is now fundamental and this Parliament is making a serious effort here. As regards fiscal union: it cannot exist without serious measures to combat tax fraud and tax evasion, nor can it exist if the tough effort on public finance discipline is not linked to coordinated management of the States’ 20- or 30-year debt, stabilising the cost and making it possible to relaunch the economy. This is, moreover, Parliament’s proposal when it debates the Two-Pack.

The third pillar, economic union: today that stands empty and Europe needs two things. First a spur for growth, once we have reached a clear decision as to how to recreate productive capacity within Europe, which implies a review of external trade policy in an era of globalisation and of the industrial aspect of its internal policy.

Fourth pillar: increasing democratic legitimacy implies, in the short term, making it possible to impose democratic accountability upon the Troika, in particular accountability to this Parliament. As regards the last pillar, which we would like to add and which we would like to see expanded, it is not possible to deal with the future of Europe without placing due emphasis on a social and fundamental rights pillar, which at present European citizens do not have.

(The speaker agreed to take a blue-card question under Rule 149(8)).

 
  
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  Hans-Peter Martin (NI), blue-card question. – (DE) Mr President, Ms Ferreira, I think your country is currently making a considerable effort and is making very good progress. Nevertheless, my question to you is: when you talk again about too little having been done to bring about growth and when you consider the decades during which Portugal received billions upon billions of euros from the net contributors, would you say that all these funds have been invested wisely – I am thinking here about parallel motorways – or that there has been a great deal of misallocation?

 
  
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  Elisa Ferreira (S&D), blue-card answer. (PT) There are always margins for progress, but for Portugal the support of the European Union has been fundamental over recent years. Portugal was transformed from a country whose competitiveness was based on cheap labour into a country with a highly skilled, highly sophisticated workforce. However, an exporting country needs to be able to send its exports somewhere. That is why it is important for countries with spare capacity to open their doors to people with upgraded qualifications coming from countries with a specialisation profile that is completely unsustainable.

One final note to say that emigration cannot provide the solution – that a workforce whose skills have been upgraded with European Union support should now be lost via a mass exodus of the most highly qualified individuals to countries with the margin to receive them. This is tragic and completely undermines our future.

 
  
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  Sylvie Goulard (ALDE).(FR) Mr President, I wanted to thank Ms Thyssen for her work. In my view, the June European Council also laid down milestones for a better approach.

However, today, I wanted to ask another question: do you know how Eurosceptics are made? It is by saying you will do things that never get done. It is by spending the last 20 years talking to people about a common foreign policy that does not exist; we talked about being the most competitive part of the world in 2010, which they didn’t see materialise. Now, do you know what effect you will have at the European Council on Thursday if you take a decision that ignores a plenary vote in Parliament? If you do that for the European Central Bank, giving it an image that is not the one we want to see Europe have in the world, you risk completely removing any credibility from all your fine words about strengthening democracy. Therefore we will see on Thursday evening whether the European Council respects democracy or whether everything we do here is completely pointless.

 
  
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  Gerald Häfner (Verts/ALE).(DE) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, I would also like to thank Ms Thyssen, the rapporteur, and Parliament as a whole, which has worked together outstandingly well on this report. Both this collaboration and the actual report and its contents – when you compare it with the Van Rompuy paper – demonstrate how necessary it is for Parliament to get involved in these matters.

We have reached a milestone. We are now no longer just fighting fires, we are no longer merely the fire brigade, but are in the process of shaping the architecture for a new, united Europe, for economic and monetary union, but also for the course that Europe should take as we head into the future. We need to acknowledge explicitly that we have placed the emphasis very firmly on freedom, an issue towards which Europe has a strong leaning. I am a fervent defender of freedom, but we have neglected equality, democracy and social issues in Europe. There is an urgent need for us to create more democracy in Europe, and we must take urgent steps to achieve greater solidarity in Europe, between countries and amongst one another.

I believe this will only be possible if we involve Parliament and citizens to a greater extent. The future of Europe is not in the hands of a few institutions, the presidents of the presidents. Europe’s future and the question of whether this continent can collectively emerge from the crisis depend on whether citizens regard it as their Europe and their responsibility. We will only manage to bring this about if we involve citizens through a democratic convention, through referendums on the outcome of this convention and by making clear that Europe is not about us, the institutions, but about you, all of us, and our future in a united Europe!

 
  
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  Kay Swinburne (ECR). - Mr President, today’s debate and previous discussions of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs have focused on accountability and seeking solutions to the many outstanding issues which need to be resolved for banking union to work. The most important thing we, as parliamentarians, can do on this wide-reaching proposal is to guarantee legal certainty as far as possible.

In the US, the overarching financial crisis legislation, Dodd-Frank, has come under huge legal scrutiny. A few months ago the CFTC, which was charged with writing rules under Dodd-Frank, lost their legal case around position limits because the political agreement had been to look at where the position limits were necessary, whereas the CFTC had interpreted this as implementing them without consideration of necessity.

The wrongs and rights of this case are obviously up to the US legal system. However, there are lessons to be learned about how political compromises can lead to legal battles in the court. Banking union will seek to supervise the euro area’s largest banks. These banks have large legal teams, which they will not hesitate to use. Unintended consequences need to be kept to a minimum and cross-cutting legislative issues identified and addressed in advance. Above all else, we must shy away from political fudges and ensure that we create a stable and legal framework that will truly stabilise the financial system.

 
  
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  Claudio Morganti (EFD).(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, what I seem to be hearing is that we need to move towards genuine Economic and Monetary Union. Does this mean that everything thus far has been play-acting, that all the measures taken to date have not been real but simply the fruit of someone’s imagination? Unfortunately it was not and it was poisoned fruit that we were served. There is continuing emphasis on erroneous presuppositions, such as the need to standardise the economy and the irreversibility of the euro. In fact it is the one-sided euro contract that will be the downfall of a single European Union. The report states that the Member States that do not yet have the single currency are keen to join it. This is absolute rubbish, as Bulgaria and Poland, which do not want to join the euro, have shown.

The potential for countries not to join the euro has, moreover, been confirmed. That is a good thing. But it cannot now be said that a single currency is the ultimate goal of the European Union, especially since measures for leaving the euro are being provided for, and indeed since it is already possible to leave the European Union itself under Article 50 of the Treaty. The report makes repeated use of the word ‘binding’; it talks about binding budgetary discipline and binding economic policy guidelines. So that would be Brussels, from on high and in a binding way, backing out of policies that are working for different European countries. We think that this is dangerous and unacceptable. We do not want to be slaves of Brussels.

 
  
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  Jürgen Klute (GUE/NGL).(DE) Mr President, I have two brief comments on the report: firstly, I believe it is right and good that with this report the European Parliament is getting involved in the debate on economic and monetary union. After all, this is an issue of such importance that it cannot be left to the Council alone. To date, in the management of the crisis the Council has proven to be more a stronghold of nationalism than a place where European solutions are developed.

Secondly, economic and monetary union is not sufficient. During the crisis many citizens viewed the work of the European Union, Parliament, the Commission and the Council as a means of supporting the banks. Whether that is true in all cases is a moot point, but that is the experience of many citizens: the banks are being supported, while the social situation of many citizens is becoming increasingly precarious.

It is not sufficient simply to talk about prosperity, as the spokesperson for the Council did. What is required is a social union that guarantees all citizens social rights. If we do not manage to achieve this, the EU will lose the support of citizens.

 
  
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  Hans-Peter Martin (NI).(DE) Mr President, the Europe that the European Council and the Commission are riding has strayed off course and now they really find themselves dangling over the abyss. What they lack is solid ground in the form of the support of the European people.

We find ourselves in a very dramatic situation in which we all know that we need a strong Europe, but in which an increasing number of citizens are turning away, due to understandable fears, the reasons for which have been mentioned by previous speakers, from the Europe of the Council and the Commission, as they consider themselves to be unrepresented and actually view the European Union more as a banking union than a democratic union. This is where the main root of the problem lies.

What they are now doing once again with these new texts, what the Council is steering towards, is patching up a boiler that, although it has not yet exploded, is threatening to do so. Fervent pro-Europeans like me have been saying here for many years that creating a union without democracy will not work. However, that is something we are once again doing to some extent in our paper, as presented by Ms Thyssen. It is a welcome development that a wide range of control instruments are being put in place and that we are supporting this, but our actions fall well short when it comes to democratic legitimacy. We should follow Mr Häfner and others. Yes, we need a convention. Yes, we do indeed need a fully fledged European Parliament and yes, we need referendums to achieve this.

You should summon up the courage for this before it is too late, as we can still secure the majority. However, I fear that the boiler will explode before we actually achieve a reform of this Europe.

 
  
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  Werner Langen (PPE).(DE) Mr President, Ms Thyssen’s report is a formidable piece of work, but rather than being a critical survey of the situation, it is – if I may say so – a non-binding wish list directed at the Commission. The convergence in this report that has been called for by many and that Mr Barnier has emphasised once again leaves many questions open.

1. Why is this time pressure being applied here and within the legislative procedure without issues such as deposit guarantees, Eurobonds, the debt repayment fund or the European Central Bank having been intensively discussed?

2. Some of the demands contravene the European Treaties. It is impossible to create confidence when there are breaches, for example of Article 126(6).

3. The banking union, which forms a key part of the recommendations, destroys the single market for financial services, puts the independence of the ECB at risk and clearly contravenes the principle of subsidiarity.

4. What use are declarations about parliamentary control if not even the President of the European Parliament is accepted as a full member of the Van Rompuy group?

5. I believe, and here I share the opinions of Mr Häfner and in part also those of Mr Klute, that changes to the Treaties are required to strengthen the European Union – ones that are legally sound and, instead of being rushed, are well considered and worked out in a convention – rather than decisions that are taken under time pressure and only have the aim of rectifying national failings in the banking sector, such as those in Spain, Ireland, Belgium and France, after the event by means of the European bailout mechanism.

Lastly, anyone who wants more democratic control must finally take the Treaty of Lisbon seriously and reduce intergovernmental agreements and treaties. The Thyssen report makes no mention of this.

 
  
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  Alejandro Cercas (S&D). - (ES) Mr President, I would like to begin by thanking Ms Thyssen, on behalf of the Members from the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament who are on the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs, for enabling us to discuss social issues in this debate. This is simply because, despite the fact that in President Van Rompuy’s document there is not a single word on the matter, we are experiencing the most serious social crisis in the history of the European Union. It is inconceivable that the document produced by the President of the Council does not contain a single word on unemployment or the situation of young people: in other words the situation of those who are losing out so much, through no fault of their own, due to the major crisis that we are suffering.

I believe that this continues to be the case because we still have the same problem that we had originally: the blind belief in the market that exists in Brussels in both the Commission and the Council. The belief is also that there are no other options and that there is no alternative to austerity administered like a purge in such a cruel way that it is going to kill the patient.

Nevertheless we have the solutions in our Treaty, Mr Barnier. In it we have economic and monetary union, with a dimension of growth, social policy, employment and a high standard of living for Europeans. That is the approach that we should adopt in the new economic and monetary union. It is right that monetary union should be accompanied by a reinforced economic union, but we need that social pillar.

We need that social pillar because we need the public. We need to integrate the millions of young people who are currently neither studying nor working. We need to protect the fundamental rights of workers, so that this crisis does not put an end to the European social model. What we need, Mr Barnier, is not to lose the soul of Europe.

For that reason, we must not leave it in the hands of blind bureaucrats or economists who are not seeing the drama and its real consequences. We need a return to policy, solidarity and the fundamental values that gave rise to the European Union, which was a community and not just a market.

 
  
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  Olle Schmidt (ALDE).(SV) Mr President, these are critical times. Confidence has been lost. Our message to the leaders of Europe must be clear: do not divide the Union.

Firstly, a few words on the banking union, and I hope Ms in ‘t Veld does not think I am lapsing into nationalism here.

The regulatory control of banks which operate in a number of countries must take place at European level. The European Central Bank (ECB) together with the European Banking Authority (EBA) and the national regulatory authorities should play a stronger role.

In many countries, as in my home country of Sweden, which is not a member of the euro area, it is important that the conditions for participating in a banking union do not give the euro countries an unfair advantage. Countries outside the euro area should be guaranteed an equal influence in the ECB.

It is also important that countries with a large banking sector are also able to impose higher capital requirements on their banks in the future.

This week, the Swedish Government requested an amendment to the Treaty. It should be reasonably possible to meet the requirements concerning influence without amending the Treaty, and I hope that this is possible.

I will conclude with an appeal: do not divide the Union. Additionally, keep all doors open for the United Kingdom. We know from history what a divided Europe can lead to.

 
  
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  Lajos Bokros (ECR). - Mr President, economic and monetary union cannot be viable and sustainable without two indispensable ingredients: fiscal discipline and democratic legitimacy. Permanently strong fiscal discipline should result in structurally balanced budgets across the business cycle, in order to avoid debt traps. At the same time, for fiscal discipline to hold, solid democratic legitimacy is necessary, based on an enlightened political culture of civic responsibility.

At this stage in the development of the EU, fiscal policy has to remain national because full democratic legitimacy exists only at national level. Setting budgets, imposing taxes and redistributing income are inalienable components of national sovereignty. That includes also the right of states to go bankrupt, while other states should maintain the right of refraining from bailing out bankrupt ones.

For market capitalism and liberal democracy to survive in this century, bankruptcy should remain a credible threat not only for enterprises but also for central and sub-sovereign governments. Fiscal socialism, the demutualisation of debt without commensurate mutualisation of national sovereignty, is untenable and unacceptable. It will only destroy the remainder of European fiscal discipline and further weaken democratic legitimacy.

 
  
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  Marta Andreasen (EFD). - Mr President, with all due respect to the rapporteur, we should call this report what it really is: a cry for help by the European Parliament to remain relevant. The lesson still has not been learnt. We find ourselves in the current financial mess in large part due to the inefficiency of the European institutions. Angela Merkel recognised this by deciding to act intergovernmentally instead of interinstitutionally, during all the peaks of the crisis. Now we are being asked to empower the same institutions to be the supervisors of this new European Monetary Union, which will also result in an additional burden to taxpayers.

In a nutshell, this will entail more staff and even more money and will further remove powers from national supervisors, while the main problems remain unresolved. The EU needs to learn to do much less and do it better. More Europe simply makes a deep hole much deeper.

 
  
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  Cornelis de Jong (GUE/NGL).(NL) Mr President, the draft report by Ms Thyssen does not bring to an end the budget fetishism that purely and simply pushes Europe into the abyss. In southern Europe the economies are constantly shrinking but in the Netherlands as well the economy has also contracted by 1.1 % in the last quarter. The fact that the conservative-liberal Volkspartij voor Vrijheid en Democratie is operating an irresponsible austerity policy goes together with its ideology. The party wishes for an ever-smaller government and sees social rights as an obstacle to competitiveness.

However, the fact that the Social Democratic Partij van de Arbeid is contributing to this is completely incomprehensible. For the elections their leader, Diederik Samsom, still disassociated himself from the 3 % standard. Now he is contributing to dramatic austerity measures, while the International Monetary Fund is in fact encouraging countries like the Netherlands to invest and to strengthen consumer confidence.

I would call upon the Social Democrats here to distance themselves from the policy of their Dutch colleagues and to vote for our amendments in which we see the current special economic circumstances as an adequate reason for a prudent and therefore flexible application of the 3 % standard. It is only in this way that European economies can get back on their feet again.

 
  
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  Francisco Sosa Wagner (NI). - (ES) Mr President, I like Ms Thyssen’s report because I believe that anything that involves strengthening Parliament’s role and authority in the political debate is heading in the right direction.

Too often we hear the European institutions being accused of being of poor democratic quality. This is a statement made lightly that on this occasion has no place in this debate. There is, however, a place for pointing out that Parliament has the same legitimacy as any national parliament, and probably even, compared to some, it is governed by more transparent rules and also allows its Members greater freedom.

All economic measures must therefore pass through the filter that Parliament represents before being finally adopted, and also subsequently in order to examine their implementation and results.

The group of experts appointed to check that the Member States are complying with the conditions imposed by the EU authorities and the representatives of the stability mechanism must appear before this House so that we as Members receive comprehensive information first hand.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE). - (PT) Mr President, I should first like to congratulate Marianne Thyssen on the excellent report she has delivered here. Once again Parliament is taking a leading role, a free position based on a very simple assumption: solving the problems of people who are suffering today in the streets, who have income problems, who have unemployment problems, is very much in line with the European policy option. Parliament is the body best equipped to say that and best equipped to explain that to citizens. Parliament is the body with the capacity to explain that we cannot continue with a short-term vision that goes forwards and then backwards. There is an extremely broad variety of subjects on which we have not adopted a joint position. We advocate fiscal union, but we are implementing that very slowly. We advocate banking union but the vision is not a total vision. And it is precisely the link between the short-term vision and the long-term vision which is needed in this report under discussion. Parliament is making progress towards that. I hope that the other institutions will also do so because, in all sincerity, there is no shortage of reports in Europe. They are pieces of paper but they do not then deliver anything concrete. Making things concrete entails the explanation of something very simple: the internal market requires a functioning currency. In order for the currency to work, we simply must take the road to greater political union, greater fiscal union, and a banking union that actually works. That is the only way to have a strategy that will constitute a single strategy as regards the investment that Europe so needs. That is the only way our citizens will have the opportunity to solve the problems which they are increasingly raising. Parliament is aware of that. Let us hope that the other institutions are too.

 
  
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  Ivailo Kalfin (S&D). - Mr President, I would like to concentrate on the fiscal and budgetary part of the report and the proposal by the four Presidents. Indeed, we have a proposal on the table for a fiscal capacity for the euro area which is going to be discussed in December 2012 by the Heads of State. This is a profound proposal which has its own logic. Of course, the single currency also needs closer integration and convergence in terms of budgetary policies. I also think that from the experience we have had with countries that are under the programme it is indispensable that besides restructuring the national budgets and cutting costs, we provide the necessary financing to keep the economy running and solve some of the most important and serious social problems.

I would say that to maintain a single currency you also need a much larger budget but I am not going to touch on that. There are two ways to reach that aim. The first one is the one suggested by Parliament, and that is to have an overall approach vis-à-vis the fiscal commitments of the Member States for the European budget but also for different funds which would go to part of the Member States.

The other way is the one proposed by Mr Herman van Rompuy and this is to split and discuss separately these issues and eventually to go to an intergovernmental agreement. This second way would be very dangerous because both instruments depend on the national budgets; we have the same contributors and they cannot pay twice for two budgets – that is why we need to involve everything within the frameworks of the European institutions and reach a unity of the budgetary commitments.

 
  
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  Wolf Klinz (ALDE).(DE) Commissioner, ladies and gentlemen, first of all I would also like to thank our colleague Ms Thyssen for her extremely detailed and largely balanced report.

We have known for some time that the euro area can only be successful in the long term if it achieves greater integration and actually becomes a genuine economic, financial and monetary union. What that means in detail and what measures need to be taken emerge from the report put forward by Mr Rompuy this summer.

This report was drawn up by four Presidents. There is one President missing, however, namely President Martin Schulz, the representative of our House. To me this demonstrates the little esteem in which our House is actually held by the Council. This is also made clear by the fact that the Council is now trying to rush through a very important issue, namely the introduction of a powerful supervisory mechanism for the banking sector at the European Central Bank, with Parliament once again having been assigned nothing more than a role on the sidelines.

I do not consider this to be compatible with the spirit of the Treaty of Lisbon and I believe that the Council’s ‘sink or swim’ policy towards Parliament is doomed to failure in the long term.

 
  
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  Vicky Ford (ECR). - Mr President, as an economist I understand the intellectual arguments that for the euro area’s monetary union to work it also needs fiscal union and banking union, but the reality seems somewhat different to me. For fiscal union, you will not restore confidence in public sector finances without greater transparency on public sector debts. Eighteen months ago, Member States agreed to greater transparency but many countries, including big countries, are still not delivering.

Secondly, on banking union you will not get strong supervision without a strong rule book. The so-called ‘single rule book’ is not a level playing field – it has many exemptions for big Member States, it does not meet global standards and it does not end the dangerous feedback loop between sovereigns and banks.

Thirdly, monetary union, fiscal union, banking union does not equal the single market. This is not a new fact: it goes back to the Maastricht Treaty of 1992. If we want a single market of 27, then we cannot have a situation where those outside the euro area cede rule-making to the EU, whereas those within the euro area have exempted them and just have to comply or explain.

 
  
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  Liisa Jaakonsaari (S&D), blue-card question to Wolf Klinz. – (FI) Mr President, Mr Klinz, you did a commendable job of leading Parliament’s ‘crisis committee’, where for two and a half years we heard from both European and non-European experts on how the financial crisis could be resolved. I would now like to ask you whether the Council and the Commission have taken into consideration those proposals made by the crisis committee. Are you satisfied with this cooperation with Parliament and with the Council?

 
  
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  Wolf Klinz (ALDE), blue-card answer. – (DE) Mr President, … am not satisfied with the collaboration between Parliament and the Council on this point. The Crisis Committee’s proposals, some of which the Council is now taking up, were hardly commented on by the Council in any way at the time the report was presented, let alone adopted.

 
  
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  Gunnar Hökmark (PPE). - Mr President, I thank the rapporteur and am glad we are having this debate, but I think it is important to underline one thing and that is that new institutions in the European Union are no solution to the structural problems of the European economy. I sometimes think when we have debates like this that we are underestimating the strengths and opportunities of the European Union we have. It is the genuine achievement of all the Member States that united and integrated and it is the world’s biggest economy, but we are not able to make it the world’s biggest and most dynamic market. That is why I am concerned about some of the proposals we are discussing, because we are risking more fragmentation rather than unity regarding developing the opportunities of the single market.

I think in the end, if we do not do it right, we are risking a weaker Europe with more fragmentation, instead of a stronger Europe using all the opportunities. We need better supervision and we can achieve that all together. We need better crisis management of banks and we can achieve that. We need moral stability in public finances and we have the rules for that, but now we need to ensure that everyone is following that. We need to have lower taxes in order to become competitive, not new taxes. There is no new money. Just because we have a tax at European level that does not mean that it is free for the European citizens. We need to have an entrepreneurial single market at European level where the Commissioner here is responsible and doing his utmost, but also at the Member State level. We need to apply the single rule book. A lot of the things we need to do today we can do today and they will not be solved by institutional structures for tomorrow. We can make a stronger Europe today.

(The speaker agreed to take a blue-card question under Rule 149(8))

 
  
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  Hans-Peter Martin (NI), blue-card question. – (DE) Mr President, Mr Hökmark, in this House you are among the most fervent and devout supporters of neoliberalism, constant deregulation and lower taxation. In view of the fact that, over the two decades since the single market was created, inequality within the European Union has increased tenfold in many countries – that is the difference between the lowest and highest incomes – can you really maintain your position and do you not see that we are now also getting a very clear message from the street that we need greater equality and that consequently the approach of ever greater deregulation is precisely the wrong one to take?

 
  
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  Gunnar Hökmark (PPE), blue-card answer. – Mr Martin, if you take a look around the world, where do you see prosperity rising and where do you see poverty? Prosperity is rising where there are open economies, free trade and entrepreneurial room for new activities – all over the world. If you look around in Europe, at the crisis economies, do you really think our crisis economies have too much market economy? I would say rather that they have too much regulation, bureaucracy, monopoly and licences hindering economic development. If you are ready to take responsibility for a stronger Europe, then let us use the best of our experience and make Europe strong by opening it up for European citizens to do their utmost to put Europe in the lead. That should be your responsibility as well as all the others.

 
  
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  Peter Simon (S&D).(DE) Mr President, Mr Louca, you have emphasised the importance of this House in relation to the continued development of economic and monetary union. I therefore allow myself to refer to paragraph 8 of the report that we are adopting today. With this paragraph this House calls on the Council to finally bring to a conclusion the legislative procedures relating to the realisation of economic and monetary union that are being blocked by the Council.

Nine months ago this House adopted a key part of the banking union legislation, that relating to deposit guarantees, at first reading. Since then it has been up to the Council to respond and find a common position. For nine months the Council has been sleeping on this. For nine months the Council has been inactive, and you, Mr Louca, as the President-in-Office of the Council, have taken no action – absolutely no action at all – in relation to the European Parliament in four and a half months to move this legislative procedure forward!

We have promised European taxpayers that future crises will not be paid for by them, but by the banks themselves. If we now endeavour to implement supervision quickly, we will be making use of the European Stability Mechanism. Also taxpayers’ money! A reliable deposit guarantee scheme, a reliable fund for the recovery and resolution of banks – these are funds that relieve the burden on taxpayers. Devote yourself to these funds with the same zeal! Make exactly the same progress with them! You will be judged on this by European taxpayers, but also by this House.

 
  
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  Andrew Duff (ALDE). - Mr President, there has quite properly been a lot of talk about democratic accountability but I think that we need to think more about the strength of the executive authority. What we really need is a credible federal economic government clearly responsible for and to taxpayers and delivering sustainable fiscal and economic policy.

In my view, this government must be led by a European treasury secretary, a high-profile political figure, and I hope that the Commission, approaching the road map for the December European Council, will insist on the inclusion of such a post.

 
  
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  Ildikó Gáll-Pelcz (PPE).(HU) Mr President, first of all I welcome the report; secondly I would like to thank the rapporteur, Ms Thyssen, for her fantastic work. She did not have an easy job, either in terms of the timeframe for the report or of its individual content. The report we have in front of us, ladies and gentlemen, is a kind of response to the Van Rompuy report, and forms an integral part of the package of measures to strengthen economic and monetary union. I am convinced that alongside coordinated economic policies and fiscal austerity measures from Member States, it is vital for the Union to have a supervisory framework which is accurate, and which is capable of covering, forecasting and under certain circumstances managing systemic risks. Thus the aim of this new regulation is not just to establish a more predictable regulatory environment; we will also hopefully manage to redress the imbalanced financial situation between banks and sovereign debts, whilst restoring confidence in the financial market. If all the elements of the banking union are realised, financing costs for euro area banks will fall, which in turn could have an indirect and positive impact on their lending operations, thus injecting new momentum to the European economy. It is therefore in our common interest to have a European banking supervision framework, but we also need to focus on the role this budding system will attribute to Member States who intend to participate but have yet to introduce the single currency. This is why, in my proposals, I strove to allocate a key role to striking a balance between the rights and obligations of these Member States, and to creating a financial guarantee that reduces or eliminates the distorting effect of the banking union. After the initial debates and differences of opinion, the draft report enjoyed broad support in our committee, which I am delighted about; it is also pleasing that this debate has not been closed and is continuing as we are able to express more detailed, more practical and more refined opinions in a further two legislative packages.

 
  
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  George Sabin Cutaş (S&D).(RO) Mr President, the Maastricht Treaty was a milestone in the history of the European Union, through the creation of a single currency, which was supported by both an economic pillar and a monetary one. However, as monetary policy has taken shape with the successive adoption of European Treaties, the macroeconomic dimension has been confined to mere coordination. The lack of a true economic policy has deprived the Union of an adequate response to the crisis, which has led to serious social costs.

To remedy these shortcomings, the European Commission proposes the creation of a banking union. I support this proposal. We need greater economic integration and the instruments necessary to deal with the current economic and social challenges. However, if we focus on the Single Supervisory Mechanism for banking without developing common rules to prevent banks from going bust and a single deposit guarantee scheme, we will repeat the mistakes that made the economic and monetary union fragile. At the same time, the exclusion of non-euro countries from the decision-making process in relation to the Single Supervisory Mechanism must be avoided.

 
  
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  Pablo Zalba Bidegain (PPE). - (ES) Mr President, we all recognise the importance of this report and the efforts made by the rapporteur to achieve a consensus, and I would therefore firstly like to congratulate Ms Thyssen.

This House has called on previous occasions for the establishment of an integrated financial framework, budgetary framework and economic policy framework. At the Council in June the guidelines and roadmap were agreed, which we must now begin to follow. It is now the time to do what was agreed.

The first step is banking union based on three pillars. Firstly, a single supervisor, which is the key to breaking the circle between banking debt and sovereign debt; a second pillar based on the common deposit guarantee mechanism; and a third pillar based on a common bank crisis resolution system.

These are three basic pillars in order finally to begin to generate stability and confidence. In this sense, I support the European Central Bank taking on as soon as possible the powers to act as single independent supervisor over all banks, obviously with the cooperation of the national authorities.

With regard to direct recapitalisation of banks, I support what was adopted at the Council in June, in which the possibility was confirmed of a direct injection of cash into the banks once the single supervisor begins operation.

In addition, fiscal union is the other goal that must be achieved in the medium term, in order to achieve an authentic and genuine economic and monetary union.

In the same way, as a culmination of this whole process, we should move towards some sort of mutualisation of debt, in order to put an end once and for all to the differences in interest rates due to the doubts generated regarding the euro area.

What is most important in all of this is what I said at the start: to do what we have agreed, therefore I reiterate my full support for the rapporteur.

 
  
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  Anni Podimata (S&D). - (EL). Mr President, the rapporteur Ms Thyssen very rightly stressed that the discussion on the future of Europe is a political discussion, it is not a technical discussion, and that is the basic difference in our approaches. The parliamentary report, the Thyssen report, is a report which outlines the thinking on the future of Europe from a political perspective, while Mr Van Rompuy’s report is more technical in nature.

Here, then, is a shining opportunity for us to prove, not with proclamations but simply by being true to our word, that the euro is here to stay and that we have the will, the determination and the ability to correct the shortcomings and fill in the gaps, giving priority to strengthening democratic accountability and promoting the social dimension of Europe through the Social Pact.

Of course, ladies and gentlemen, the process of regaining trust presupposes something else: that we should not use the discussion on the future of the euro area as an excuse for postponing decisions that we should be taking today. I hope, Commissioner, that today’s Eurogroup meeting will confirm this.

 
  
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  Danuta Maria Hübner (PPE). - Mr President, once again the Union finds itself at a crossroads and this time we have a choice between two paths. One way to go is a more loosely integrated framework for the 28 Member States, the second path will take us to a multi-tiered Union with a stronger, deeply reformed, euro area core. Recent policy reforms have aligned us closer to the second path. There are, however, risks that come with this multi-tiered approach potentially leading to a more fragmented single market, but also repatriation of some policies back to national level and a weaker role for the Union in the global world.

An EU dominated by a strong core and a large periphery might give policymakers less firepower for a sound global position for Europe as a whole. The question of whether a single voice in international institutions for the core only will be the best solution might emerge. As this multi-tiered Europe becomes a reality, we should be alert concerning potential risks. We need to minimise unwanted spillovers to the greatest extent possible, and the core may be strong enough to provide the necessary impetus for this, but on the flipside it might not be sufficiently powerful to keep the EU together.

Let me conclude by saying that I admire the efforts of Marianne Thyssen to keep us together and, at the end of the day, which scenario will materialise depends on the way we design and manage this ensuing multi-tiered structure. That is why our work is so important.

 
  
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  Krišjānis Kariņš (PPE). (LV) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, I would like to briefly remind you of what we all learnt when we were two or maybe three years old. Certainly, I have seen at home how my children, when they begin to play with wooden blocks, quickly learn that in order to build a house from blocks you first begin with the first row at the bottom, and then perhaps you leave an opening somewhere for a window, and then a cross-piece, and at the end you put on top some joists and maybe a bit of cloth as a roof covering.

What seems to be happening now, as we in Europe try to grapple with the crisis? It seems as if we have all collectively forgotten what we learnt in our childhoods. We are not building anything from the foundations up, but one person comes running up with windows, another arrives with joists, a third is saying something about foundations, while a fourth is already talking about the roofing. As a result we are simply not standing together on this issue, and the proof of this is that the financial markets still do not believe that in Europe we have found the solution to this.

Banking union is one of the issues where, in my view, not just the majority but an overwhelming majority of us understand quite well that this is the direction in which we ought to go. However, ladies and gentlemen, I invite you to remember and bear in mind the fact that we must construct this from the foundations up, and in these foundations we ought not to build in a difference between the euro area states and states outside the euro area, because in Europe the basis of our foundations is the single market, and the single market is the 27 EU Member States.

We do not have a 27-speed Europe, and we do not have a two-speed Europe: we have a one-level, one-speed Europe. We must hold fast to these foundations, and think in particular of how we can build a banking union on the right foundations, not weakening but strengthening our economic union.

 
  
 

Catch-the-eye procedure

 
  
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  Zofija Mazej Kukovič (PPE).(SL) Mr President, praise is due to the rapporteur for her perseverance and tolerance.

Growth and savings go hand in hand, and for this reason we need a truly sound platform, something that is clearly evident from this report.

We need a common approach, rules and of course oversight. This includes rules that will reduce administration.

While each of the 6 000 internationally operating banks in Europe has its own set of rules, it is like a family where the parents have a lot of children and the children spend as they see fit, lending money to friends, until the parents end up as beggars.

The pillars representing the foundations for healthy competition, whereby we can expand beyond our own market to the global market, are certainly evident in this report.

 
  
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  Edit Herczog (S&D).(HU) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, we have debated a great deal over the last 10 years about whether the European Union should be enlarged or deepened. Today we know the answer: we have to enlarge and deepen the European Union. However, it would be unacceptable if any deepening after enlargement were to result in renewed divisions. To this end it is not just the European Union that has to demonstrate it remains open to non-euro area countries; the countries of the euro area also have to show that they want this process, they have to show their peoples that they want this process. This would have been my question to Ms Gáll-Pelcz. I am convinced that we have to encourage non-euro area governments to step out of their own shadows, distance themselves from their own weaknesses and do everything to become equal members within the European community. This is in the interests of their own populations, and we have to concentrate all our efforts on this. I would like to congratulate the rapporteur; I think this train of thought can be identified in her report too. So once again, Europe has to stay open, and we need to head in that direction.

 
  
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  Peter van Dalen (ECR).(NL) Mr President, the Thyssen report appears to point towards a genuine economic and monetary union but it forgets one important economic lesson: a monetary union can only exist between countries that have sufficient commonality. This commonality, Mr President, is missing in the euro area. This means that there is limited labour mobility and labour costs per product unit differ enormously.

The Economist this week shows that the competitiveness of France forms a very considerable risk. Along with Greece and Spain, France may soon also become the sick man of Europe. The numerous proposals in the Thyssen report are wide of the mark. Ultimately the Bretton Woods system could no longer survive. Only when the linking with the gold standard was abandoned did new opportunities arise for the global economy.

Furthermore, the current euro area can also not continue as it is. Only after the area is taken in hand will a genuine economic and monetary union be possible. If we neglect this approach then we will still be beating our heads against a brick wall.

 
  
  

IN THE CHAIR: EDWARD McMILLAN-SCOTT
Vice-President

 
  
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  Sergio Gaetano Cofferati (S&D).(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, I think that Ms Thyssen has done an excellent job. It seems to me, however, that we are dealing with a number of questions that go beyond the scope of her report. When we have talked about banking supervision, when we have discussed, on various occasions, the general conditions for managing economic activities and protecting currencies in the European Union, we have always been confronted with difficulties that are not directly related to the issue, but do concern the relationships between the individual institutions.

Parliament is the institution with greatest exposure because it is the only one directly elected by citizens, but also the one with the fewest objective powers. I think perhaps the moment may have come to see the problem for what it is. We need a revision of the basic rules, that is, of the Treaty. If we do not start again from there, I am afraid that everything we do will always be dogged by the difficulties that these insoluble contradictions cause.

 
  
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  Czesław Adam Siekierski (PPE).(PL) Mr President, with reference to today’s discussion, I would like to pose a few questions and adduce my comments:

1. The lack of a social dimension among the four pillars supporting the economic and monetary union.

2. Are Treaty changes necessary? We already have some instruments: the six-pack, the two-pack, the Fiscal Compact, the European Semester.

3. The question of openness to countries from outside the euro area.

4. The need for full inclusion of the European Parliament in the work. There should be no talk of creating a separate assembly for the euro area.

5. The problem of further transfer of rights to the level of the European Union. This means a loss of identity for Member States.

6. Effectiveness of action plans. Is the European Union reliable in its actions?

7. Citizens understand nothing of what we do. How can we best inform society in order to get across our intentions linked to economic strengthening and the various ways in which the crisis is being dealt with at EU level? Why specifically at EU level, and not just at national level? How does the budget for the financial perspective 2014-2020 stand in relation to this?

Thank you.

 
  
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  Csaba Sándor Tabajdi (S&D).(HU) Mr President, Europe is still drifting. Efforts failed during the crisis to ensure the European political elite respond in time to these challenges, and the divisions appearing not just among members of the euro area are increasingly alarming. Today, these divisions are the most alarming. Coming from a new Member State, however, I also find it alarming that a deep chasm could emerge between Member States outside the euro area and Member States within the euro area in relation to the banking union, one that jeopardises the unity and the future development paths of the European Union as a whole. This is why everything my fellow Members have said is extremely important in my opinion – that the approach to managing the European crisis has resulted in an intricate and tangled mesh which very few of us in Parliament are able to understand, and which even fewer are capable of subjecting to democratic control.

 
  
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  Inês Cristina Zuber (GUE/NGL). - (PT) Mr President, the crisis is inseparable from the strengthening of Economic and Monetary Union and of the single market, which had a profound impact in destroying the manufacturing infrastructure of countries with weaker economies, in exacerbating and creating production deficits leading to budget deficits, and in increasing public debt. That is, contrary to the propaganda about the euro and Economic and Monetary Union, these instruments not only failed to act as a shield against the crisis, as was said, and as a weapon for tackling capitalist globalisation, but also very clearly revealed their true nature – instruments for tackling growing global competition between capitalist monopolies.

The destruction of the sovereignty and independence of countries has proved to be indissociable from the process of fusing economic and political power, which accentuated the divergences and exacerbated unequal development, affecting in particular countries with peripheral economies.

This report aims to further centralise those powers, even advocating that the European supervisor should be able to wind down financial institutions, that is, to manage the process of monopolising financial capital as it sees fit. We do indeed need a worker-friendly currency instrument which favours economic growth and employment.

 
  
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  Andrew Henry William Brons (NI). - Mr President, ‘economic and monetary union is not an end in itself’, says the report. Quite right: it is an instrument to achieve political union. The report claims that it will achieve sustainable growth and a high level of employment, but it admits that unemployment in the 27 has risen by 50% from 2008 to 2012.

In those countries for which the euro is overvalued, mass unemployment and negative growth are directly attributable to euro area membership. If they were to leave the zone they would experience export-led growth and a fall in their unemployment. The euro-led recession in the South has not left the North unscathed. Its exports to the South have been reduced severely. More control and austerity measures will not reduce debt. They will reduce employment and profits, which will cut government revenue. This will lead to more debt rather than less debt.

 
  
 

(End of catch-the-eye procedure)

 
  
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  Michel Barnier, Member of the Commission. − (FR) Mr President, I would first like to thank you all for the quality of the debate and the frankness of your proposals.

At the start, Ms Berès, who is here, together with Mr Klute and a number of other honorary Members, mentioned something very important: striking a balance in everything we do. You referred to this new social pillar, this social dimension, which is, or is said to be, lacking in everything we do. I am concerned, and think the Commission should be concerned, by being challenged in this way.

It is my belief, honourable Members, that we have finally provided a global response to all of these crises. Moreover, that is why, after the 29 June summit, the reaction was somewhat favourable, a certain calm on the markets, because, after two or three years of urgent responses, with our backs to the wall, all of the responses came together, including those involving growth. It seems to me that, in order for that to work, for us to win once more what Ms Thyssen called the battle for trust, for hope, we must, at all costs, include in this global response, or rather ensure that this global response does indeed contain, this pillar, or this human, social and citizens’ dimension. In any case, honourable Members, it was in this belief that I returned to the Commission three years ago. It is in this belief that I am working with my colleagues.

Indeed, if we go beyond words and look closely at what I proposed to you in the Single Market Act, with your support and that of your Committee on the Internal Market, you will clearly see this balance, with several major levers devoted to social cohesion, services, public services and social entrepreneurship.

Mr Cercas was just talking about his blind trust in the markets. Personally, I do not have blind trust in the markets. I do not believe in market self-regulation. In the past we have been either too naive or sometimes too trusting in such self-regulation, such deregulation over the last 15 or 20 years. We are learning the lessons from that. The 28 texts I have proposed to you concerning the lessons from the crisis – as asked of us by the G20 – indeed prove that we are restoring order, governance, transparency and, quite simply, morality where these had been lost.

I also want to say, more specifically, that, with regard to this social dimension, we must, in the context of economic and monetary union, strengthen coordination of employment policy and social policy as a key factor in its success. You will see this concern reflected in the Europe 2020 targets, with several priorities on employment, education and social inclusion, and in the European Semester, which gives it priority importance. I also consider that, in the efforts towards budgetary rigour and budgetary stability logically demanded of many Member States, particularly in the euro area, there is a need to be highly selective in order to maintain spending under the solidarity heading and prudential spending, particularly in relation to education and research.

I would like to say to Mr Gualtieri that I agree on the need to improve such ex ante coordination of budgetary policy, which is one of the keys to economic coordination.

Ms Wortmann-Kool, Mr Strejček and, just now, Mr Zalba Bidegain referred to a banking union. I want to confirm that, in building this banking union, we are starting with the foundation stone, namely supervision, and I would remind you that other elements of this banking union have been put before you, relating to deposit guarantees and resolution of banking crises.

We are also – I say this to Ms Wortmann-Kool – paying great attention here to proper calibration of the measures we are taking to consolidate the banks. It is one of the keys to stability. Such proper calibration is also one of the keys to banks again starting to fulfil their role, which is to finance the economy, local areas and, in particular, small and medium-sized enterprises. With this in mind, Mr President, I will, in the coming weeks, start a debate with you by means of a green paper on financing long-term investment in the European Union.

I would like to answer Mr Hoang Ngoc, who just criticised the Commission by saying that its decisions in some way prompted the crisis. I am not going to get into an argument with you, but in your next sentence, Mr Hoang Ngoc, you rather suggested the opposite, by saying that a banking union needs to be established, there needs to be more surveillance. That is exactly what the Commission is doing in all of its proposals. I think you must be fair with us, even if you are right to be demanding.

I will briefly answer several of you. To Ms Swinburne: yes, we must construct a clear and solid legal framework for a banking union. You talk about the major banks, of course, but there are also others. I would like to recall that several of the banks that caused or are currently causing problems – Northern Rock, Bankia, Dexia – do not figure among the major or very major banks. Banks that represent a risk therefore need effective supervision generally, and in the euro area in particular.

To Mr Klinz: with regard to a banking union, I do not think that Parliament is on the sidelines, even if this idea came from the Commission and the European Council. You received an overall package, with a directive and a regulation, and you will give your opinion on that package. I am listening closely to what Parliament is saying, particularly on democratic control, and to what several of your colleagues have said – I will come back to that – on the integrity, unity and cohesion of the single market. To my mind, Parliament is not, therefore, on the sidelines. On the contrary, it has a very important opinion to give.

Ms Ford, Mr Hökmark and Ms Herczog referred to the unity of the euro area. I would like to recall, honourable Members, that, in talking about regulation, we are talking about regulation for the 27 countries of the European Union, the single rule book, only one single rule book. That is something different, since within the euro area the Member States are more interdependent – it is clear to see – and more interdependence between the banks. There is therefore a legitimate need to strengthen surveillance and to be more efficient, more integrated and more coherent with regard to surveillance. That is what justifies this banking union.

It is therefore a matter of regulation for 27 countries and of better-integrated supervision in the euro area first of all, though open to countries that are not, or not yet, members of the euro area and would like to participate. That is precisely what we are working on at present, to create the conditions for such equitable, indeed equal, involvement of countries that are not in the euro area and would like to participate in this supervision.

I would also like to signal my agreement with Ms Goulard, who pointed out that one of the keys to credibility is to do what one says, and I consider our main task now, in relation to our citizens, is to show that we are implementing what has been decided.

Mr Kariņš also just referred to the right way to build a house. Once again, the credibility of everything we do comes from pooling our answers, as happened on 29 June. Moreover, the great feature of the Thyssen report is that it mentions all of these dimensions. That is what I am doing with the single market dossier, and that is what Commissioner Rehn is doing with the economic governance dossier.

Ms in ‘t Veld just referred to something important, namely the risk of a national or nationalist retreat, which, moreover, is generally accompanied by protectionist measures. We must be very careful, also, not to let our political and economic responses allow these risks of national retreat to gain a foothold. I often say that the single market could be the first victim of national or protectionist retreat, even though it is, paradoxically, our best chance and prime trump card for exiting this crisis.

As regards the responses that must be provided, Ms Ferreira just referred to another important matter on which Mr Tajani is working, namely the industrial policy response. That does not mean protectionist measures but rather clear and equitable management of our trade relations, as well as investment and mobilisation of our resources to re-establish or consolidate a productive base – Ms Ferreira is right – in Europe.

Mr Lamberts referred to the federal leap. This expression does not shock me, personally. I understand the impatience, and sometimes regret, that we are not going fast and far enough, but I want to note, in fairness, that if you look at the content of the six-pack, the two-pack or the banking union, you will see not just proper involvement of Parliament, though that is right, but also steps towards more integration and pooling of policies and European destinies.

Mr Terho, quite rightly, just mentioned the initial inadequacies of the euro area, the gaps we are now filling by means of all of these governance measures. That is what Commissioner Rehn is doing.

A word to Hans-Peter Martin: a banking union does interest ordinary people, honourable Members, precisely because of the work we are doing so that taxpayers, who have ultimately been called on too often to pay for the consequences of the mistakes made by some banks or bankers, of bad management, of lack of smart supervision, shortcomings in supervision and management mistakes, not to mention manipulation. That is enough now! Taxpayers must not be called on further and that is just what we are seeking to achieve through supervision, governance and resolution. All of the measures we are taking, and which I am proposing to you, are intended to avert, to prevent, crises and ensure that, when crises occur, it is the shareholders or others involved in those banks who pay, and not taxpayers.

Lastly, I would like to tell Mr Schmidt, Mr Hökmark, Ms Wortmann-Kool and Ms Hübner that I attach great importance to the integrity of the single market. That is why I made a clear distinction between the financial regulation we are undertaking and the method of supervising the banking sector in the euro area, a method open, however, to countries that want it.

Finally, I would like to thank Ms Thyssen for the quality of this report. You have presented an important report, which has garnered very wide support.

To Mr Duff and Ms Podimata, who voted for the democratic challenge, I similarly think we must strengthen democratic control yet further and listen to national parliaments. You have a very important part to play in this regard, to forge links with national parliaments and avoid splits or cracks appearing in all of our work on integration. Mr Hoang Ngoc, you just said that, with this report, you had invited yourselves to the democratic debate. I do not think you invited yourselves. I consider that Parliament is needed in the debate on economic and monetary union. Because you are the only European institution directly elected by the people, I take the view that you are needed and that this report, Ms Thyssen, is of very great importance at this time.

 
  
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  Loucas Louca, President-in-Office of the Council. (EL). Mr President, I shall try to be brief. I have listened closely to all the speeches, opinions and questions put by the honourable Members of the European Parliament. I would like to mention Mr Simon’s comments on the deposit guarantee system. We recognise the role and importance of the system as one of the key elements of the single rule book which will form the basis for banking union. Discussion of this proposal is inseparably linked with the proposal on bank recovery and resolution. The Member States therefore do not consider it possible to promote the deposit guarantee system without clarifying the details of the funding for that proposal; I shall, however, certainly pass on the points you have raised to the competent minister. As regards ensuring democratic legitimacy in the decision-making process, I am convinced that there should be strong mechanisms to ensure democratic legitimacy. At the European Council in October, it was agreed that ways to ensure a proper debate in the context of the European Semester, both within the European Parliament and in national parliaments, should be explored. I would like to add that the Member States which are signatories to the Treaty on Stability, Coordination and Governance in the Economic and Monetary Union are seeking to improve cooperation between national parliaments and the European Parliament. This is an area which the European Council will certainly need to return to in December. As regards the social aspect, we believe it has already been covered to a large extent by the Europe 2020 strategy, as Mr Perez and other speakers have pointed out, and that social rights are at the heart of the European Union’s values. Austerity policies take account of this element as far as possible; however, circumstances often make it necessary to take measures which are difficult to accept but must nevertheless be continued in order to restore trust. My own country is no exception. It is obviously very important that there should continue to be a robust dialogue on this issue between us, i.e. between the two institutional bodies that we represent. The deepening of economic and monetary union will call for more active involvement by all the institutional bodies, including this Parliament. You should therefore play a substantial part in this discussion. I think we all agree that an ambitious European plan must be approved at the European Council meeting in December, and that, as Ms Thyssen has put it, the new measures which are to be included in this plan must signal the start of a renewed relationship of trust. We believe this meeting is particularly useful and that it shows in practice that the European Parliament has a very substantial role to play in the entire process, on the basis of the interim evaluation of Ms Thyssen’s report. Cooperation between the European Parliament and the Council is already very close, and on many occasions Mr Van Rompuy has called on Mr Schulz to present the views of the European Parliament. The Council wants the European Parliament to be actively involved and is making every effort to strengthen its voice. I assure you that we are listening carefully to your concerns and are taking them into account in our work, while looking forward to further strengthening the cooperation between us. Thank you for this interesting discussion. I shall pass on the issues that have been raised to the Council and the President of the Council.

 
  
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  Marianne Thyssen, rapporteur. − (NL) Mr President, I wish to make another three points. I should like to thank the President-in-Office of the Council and Commissioner Barnier for their positive comments about the report, but I would also at once express the hope that we shall manage to travel the route to really strengthening economic and monetary union in the same positive spirit of cooperation, because in the end actions speak louder than words.

Secondly, this report is the product of intense cooperation between many of our Members: in the first place Mr Gualtieri, the rapporteurs for the opinion of the various committees and also all shadow rapporteurs from the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs. Very many thanks indeed, ladies and gentlemen.

Thirdly, Mr President, I should like to say something about constructive cooperation. Constructive cooperation is not only enjoyable and a good thing because it is enjoyable but above all it is good because it is proof of the fact that in this House we wish to act with determination and also that the political skills are present to roll out a vision that we share and that we wish to share across borders and over and above party and group lines.

That, ladies and gentlemen, is what our citizens expect from us. We are their representatives. We must fight for our rights in order to let their voices be heard, but above all we must come up with solutions to their problems. People do not want a never-ending game of ping pong between institutions or parties; they want us to be able to transcend differences of opinion through exchanges of views and particularly for these exchanges of views to lead to actual decisions being taken. This brings me back to where I started: actions speak louder than words and we shall all be judged on them.

 
  
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  President. − The debate is closed.

The vote will take place shortly.

Written statements (Rule 149)

 
  
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  João Ferreira (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) is a European big business plan, intended to reduce unit labour costs (the real objective behind price stability), greater liberalisation of capital movement and, consequently, greater mobility of multinational capital in search of better conditions for exploiting labour and controlling markets within the European area. The consequences of that are evident: a deterioration in living and working conditions; a fall in the wage share in national income; the destruction of manufacturing infrastructures and increased de-industrialisation in the peripheral countries – turning them into consumers of the excess produced by core countries. EMU is inevitably bound up with the increase in macroeconomic imbalances between the various countries in the euro area, indissociable from the indebtedness of the net importer States. The path proved to be unsustainable, but those who were reaping the benefit do not want to deviate from it. Therefore, in a veritable forging ahead, they wish to strengthen the instrument which served their interests so well. That is typical in the EU: each new step towards integration tries to legitimise the previous step and to justify the next one. The result is greater centralisation of political and economic power, new steps towards the development of a monopolistic capitalism on a European scale and more attacks on democracy and the sovereignty of peoples.

 
  
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  Danuta Jazłowiecka (PPE), in writing. – (PL) The European Union and its Member States are currently experiencing another year of enormous economic problems. The crisis triggered by the collapse of American banks in 2008 has had the greatest effect on young people. We should regard the fact that as many as 22 % of them are out of work as a personal defeat; and in some Member States the unemployment level in this age group is over 50 %. It is a paradox that the Erasmus generation – the first generation of true Europeans – is increasingly taking to referring to itself as ‘lost’. Consequently, when we are drafting recommendations aimed at the creation of a genuine economic and monetary union, we must take full advantage of all the instruments provided by the Treaties.

I agree with the rapporteur that the potential of the Lisbon Treaty in the sphere of social policy is not being fully utilised. Decisive steps should be taken to support and supplement the actions of Member States as regards integration of individuals who are excluded from the labour market, as this exclusion mainly affects young people. Studies have shown that if they do not succeed in taking up stable and fairly remunerated work within a few years of completing their education, they will remain outside the labour market for good. Instead of building a future for the EU, they will more probably constitute a source of instability and manifold problems. We should therefore do all we can to ensure that these young and often well-educated people can take full advantage of the potential inherent in them. For if we lose this generation, we shall also lose the EU and a good future for Europe.

 
  
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  Vladimír Maňka (S&D), in writing. - (SK) Rising unemployment, the uncertain situation in the banking sector, high interest rates on loans granted to some countries, difficult access to resources, declining investment, lack of competitiveness, the risk of poverty … These are problems that Europe will not be able to solve if it is not closely linked in a true economic and monetary union.

A common currency can be sustainable and stable only if Member States are willing to delegate their powers in the field of fiscal policy to the level of the Union. We need to create a stable framework within which Member States can rely on support which is based on solidarity with other Member States, should problems arise. On the other hand, each Member State must take responsibility for its financial stability and its behaviour in the area of fiscal policy.

It is therefore essential for the Commission, in cooperation with the Council and the European Parliament, to submit by the end of the year a proposal for concrete steps and measures in order to achieve genuine economic and monetary union.

 
  
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  Josef Weidenholzer (S&D), in writing.(DE) The current crisis has prompted a fundamental discussion about the future of Europe. This is also the only positive aspect of the crisis. The report by the four Presidents constitutes an insufficient response to this. Due to the one-sided composition of the committee, the fear is that this will only serve to prolong the problems experienced to date. The existing economic union is being supplemented by a fiscal union and a banking union. An attempt is being made to repair something that cannot be repaired in this way. Disastrous consequences could result from ‘more of the same’. Europe is suffering from two problems in particular: too little growth and employment and a lack of confidence on the part of its citizens. The only way out of this dilemma is for the economic union to become an economic and social union. Although the report recognises this problem, it cannot bring itself to make a clear commitment. We need to have the courage to safeguard the current union in a sustained way by means of a social pillar. To date this step has been taken far too hesitantly.

 
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