Parliaments broadly agree on next steps for economic, monetary union
Concluding the banking union, beefing up democratic accountability, and developing a budget for the Eurozone were raised regularly in a meeting between parliaments.
The debate on Tuesday, held within the yearly conference on the European Semester bringing together MEPs and national MPs, allowed participants to discuss economic governance, particularly within the Eurozone, with Mario Centeno, the Eurogroup President, Luis De Guindos, Vice-President of the European Central Bank, and Pierre Moscovici, Commissioner for economic and financial affairs.
All these lead speakers insisted on the same priorities: concluding banking union, particularly finalising the European deposit and insurance system, setting up a budget for the Eurozone to stabilise economies in difficult times, reforming the EU’s bailout fund, the European Stability Mechanism, and building more democratic accountability into the whole system.
Closing the debate, the President of the European Parliament, Antonio Tajani said, “One of my main priorities as President of the European Parliament is to bring EU policies and institutions closer to our citizens. National parliaments play a key role in reaching this goal... The European Parliament and national parliaments must be more involved in the decision-making process, also by coordinating better with each other. This is the aim of the European Parliamentary Week. Only by working together can we respond concretely to citizens’ priorities”.
Mr Tajani also warned of clouds on the horizon, saying, “It is not enough to increase growth. It is also important that growth leads to jobs and benefits for all Europeans.”
At the start of the debate, the Chair of the EP’s economic and monetary affairs committee, Roberto Gualtieri (S&D, IT), said that the Euro is “one of the biggest successes of EU integration” and that “the single currency is a condition for preserving and restoring monetary sovereignty through shared sovereignty”. He also said that, “despite being incomplete and certain wrong policy decisions having been taken, the Euro has remained strong. But this does not mean that there is room for complacency”. On making economic governance accountable, Mr Gualtieri said that the European Parliament and national parliaments should work hand in hand rather than as competitors, with all seeking to define clearly which actor is to be held responsible for accountability and at which level.
Participating MEPs and MPs broadly subscribed to the points raised, while some argued that the Eurozone was still struggling, notably with imbalances between the member states’ economies and with swathes of the population still suffering the effects of economic reform.
Replying to these criticisms, Mr De Guindos said that monetary policy was not almighty and that the persistent problems within the Eurozone would only be solved by developing a system to deal with asymmetric shocks. Mr Moscovici said that the Euro and Eurozone were not perfect, but they had brought stability, protection, power and this was why 74% of people consider the Euro to be beneficial. Mr Centeno asked participants not to frame debates about the Euro as one of net payers versus net receivers, but rather as one of “all being net winners”.
Discussions have been held in different formats since Monday and run until Tuesday, the aim being to encourage MEPs and national MPs to work more closely together on issues related to the European Semester.