Piketty outlines eurozone assembly proposal to ‘democratise’ single currency

Thomas Piketty is Benoît Hamon's advisor on European affairs. [Metropolico.org/Flickr]

As Benoît Hamon’s advisor for European budgetary issues, Thomas Piketty hopes to construct a “democratic decision-making mechanism” within the eurozone, he told France Inter on Sunday (12 February). Euractiv’s partner Ouest-France reports.

Together with Socialist presidential hopeful Hamon, Piketty has outlined his vision for a eurozone assembly to make decision-making within the single currency bloc more democratic.

Criticising the inertia of the Eurogroup and its inability to take decisions, particularly regarding the Greek crisis and the common corporate tax base for multinationals, Piketty told France Inter the structure should be “replaced” by a “eurozone assembly”.

National MPs, not MEPs

This parliamentary chamber would consist of “100-150 members” representing each country “in proportion according to their population and political groups”, Piketty said. Hamon named the economist head of his European strategy in the run-up to this year’s French presidential election.

Such a chamber would contain “30 German and 25 French representatives,” he added.

Changing from the current behind-closed-doors system to this parliamentary decision-making process would require treaty change. The proposal would not need unanimity but could be passed with support from four eurozone countries representing 77% of the EU’s population: Germany, France, Italy and Spain.

“If France puts this proposal on the table, Germany will be forced to make a compromise,” Piketty said. Berlin will not be able to “say no to all forms of parliamentary political union” within the eurozone, he added.

Learning from the financial crisis

“Europe managed the 2008 financial crisis very badly” because “we cannot make decisions collectively”, the economist said. For Piketty, the eurozone’s failure to agree on the reduction of Greek debt over the last five years is symptomatic of this paralysis.

He believes this system would unlock progress on debt and allow the eurozone to “make the most of the single currency” by, for example, placing the additional debt accumulated since the financial crisis “in a common European fund” and “mutualising the interest rate”.

“Europe was built in the 1950s on the cancellation of much bigger debts than the current Greek debt,” notably Germany’s, the expert said.

He criticised the “historical amnesia” of some European leaders.

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