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 Full text 
Verbatim report of proceedings
Wednesday, 22 May 2013 - Strasbourg Revised edition

Future legislative proposals on EMU (debate)

  Sharon Bowles, author. − Mr President, I would like to say to the Commissioner that this is the response of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs (ECON) to the Commission proposals on competitiveness and convergence instruments. First, we have made great progress on macroeconomic governance with the Two-Pack and the Six-Pack. There have also been steps on banking union which started hard on the heels of the Six-Pack.

I know that ‘Europe must keep pumping out ideas’ is a message which is pressed upon you. The ECON delegation heard the same from the IMF last year. The problem is that it undermines understanding of what we have already done and risks sending out a message of failure. We think it is time to prioritise full implementation of the Eight-Pack, that is the Two- plus Six-Pack measures, before we obscure them with the next new idea, and clarity is needed on any added value in relation to existing measures. So we think that maybe it is time to give the gym a rest; an Eight-Pack in 18 months is pretty good going. A Ten-Pack might look a bit freaky.

We remain concerned about prerogatives of both the European and national parliaments. A common theme in all the rhetoric is that ‘more Europe’ is for the benefit of citizens. A common theme in all the Parliament reports is that this has to be seen, understood and backed by inclusiveness, solidarity and accountability. However, we have had in many instances a lack of transparency, intergovernmentalism among selected states and brinkmanship that has left citizens behind.

I know the Commission hankers after the Community method, not intergovernmentalism, and we support you in that, but adding yet another icing of procedures to an already very rich cake is not the way to connect with citizens. More specifically, the Commission’s Communication on ex ante coordination failed to clarify what would be the added value of the proposed innovation when we already have the EU 2020, the European Semester and the Euro+ Pact, not to forget Cohesion Funds.

In order to avoid increased confusion, ECON has called for an inclusion of any new instrument firmly into the framework of the European Semester. This would notably allow for proper transparency and parliamentary scrutiny over the process. The Commission proposes to put in place contractual arrangements between the European and national level to incentivise the reform process at national level. We propose to have an EU level convergence code, detailing key reforms to be put in place in all Member States, on the basis of which incentives would be allocated. We think this is better than contractual arrangements, which really do not have a place between the European and national level. Rather we should seek cooperative processes.

An increased budgetary capacity to tackle the immense structural issues we are faced with is welcome. The funds allocated to CCIs could even be the embryo of a euro area budget which would surely help ease asymmetric shocks within the EMU. But the communications are also interesting for what is not in them. What we did not see is a clear commitment to a more democratic Europe. It is truly amazing, given what is all over the newspapers throughout Europe about confidence in the EU, to see that the Commission is planning to have CCI funds outside the EU budget and devoid of any parliamentary scrutiny whatsoever.

Our resolution makes more detailed suggestions about how any new instrument – and that is an ‘if’ and ‘any’ rather than a definite – should be open to all Member States – euro or not, programme or not, where necessary on a voluntary basis – that contribute to any new budgetary capacity.

Deeper integration of ex ante coordination and decision-making at European level must also be built on a solid layer of statistics. In particular, budgetary coordination within the Union requires consolidated data on public accounts of the Union, Member States, and local and regional authorities, but the overriding message is that anything short of the full involvement of Parliament as a legislative and budgetary authority is unacceptable.

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