“The situation is critical. We can no longer wait. Since European leaders keep carefully avoiding the real decision, the European Commission has to take her full responsibility. It is the sole institution that can put forward draft legislation,” the Spinelli Group said in the conclusions of it shadow European Council.
According to the group, which includes MEPs Guy Verhofstadt, Isabelle Durant, Jo Leinen and Andrew Duff, the Commission must produce a clear legislative package and timetable for and beyond the European Council of 28/29 June, which must be endorsed with cast-iron commitments by the heads of state and government.
Verhofstadt presented the Spinelli group's blueprint, which comprises 12 points, regrouped in four blocks (banking union, fiscal and economic union, political union and measures to “help Greece save itself”).
Verhofstadt stressed that EU leaders have it all wrong: “It’s not about transferring sovereignty but recovering sovereignty – in the face of challenges and threats that are of global essence, no European country can claim to be sovereign.”
If the Council does not take the right decision, he said, the Commission should formally propose them. The former Belgian PM also urged EU countries to provide a positive response to Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti’s call for short-term debt resolution and adoption of eurobonds.
“There is no solution for this crisis without mutualisation of debt. The Americans have known this since 1790 when they started with such a system. They have 104% of debt, but even if California goes bankrupt, the dollar remains strong because there is mutualisation of debt. We in Europe have no federal authority behind the euro,” Verhofstadt said, stressing that mutualisation would lower interest rates by creating liquidity.
Former European Commission President Romano Prodi, invited to take part in the Spinelli shadow council, stressed the need to rebuild the euro area behaviour, including going back to the fundamental rules that were disregarded by France and Germany.
“Let’s not forget that when the European Commission asked France and Germany to respect the stability rules, I was treated like mad. We have to go back to the rules that were conceived when the euro was born,” Prodi said, recalling that, in an interview, he called the Stability and Growth Pact "stupid" because EU countries did not respect it.
The Spinelli 'federal act' tries precisely to put into action the ideas aired by the report drafted by Council President Herman Van Rompuy, together with Commission President José Manuel Barroso in collaboration with Eurogroup President Jean-Claude Juncker and European Central Bank (ECB) President Mario Draghi,
Avoid window dressing
Leinen also underlined the poisonous and misleading debates that are sometimes happening in the member states in relation to the crisis. "There is the impression that giving something to Europe is losing it," he said, complaining that politicians back home are stuck in a chaotic perception of the sovereignty debate.
Leinen said there is a need for a new Convention, a view shared by Isabelle Durant for whom the lack of confidence in the EU is not only about the lack of institutional transparency, but more about what she calls the trans-nationalisation of political debates and information given to the citizens.
“We need a Convention, but also transnational lists and transnational media,” she said.