The centre-right coalition in the European Parliament has given its backing to the idea of issuing EU bonds to fund key European projects. The Socialists support the suggestion too. Indeed, the Parliament is set to prepare a common resolution on the issue before the end of its current mandate in mid-2009, EPP-ED Group leader Joseph Daul told EURACTIV in an interview.
Frenchman Joseph Daul is the head of the EPP-ED Group in the European Parliament.
To read a shortened version of this interview, please click here.
EU leaders will gather on Thursday in Brussels to decide upon a common line to tackle the economic crisis. Do you think they will be able to send a unified message to markets and citizens?
I wish we had a coordinated message. As we saw with the Georgian crisis and the financial turmoil, having a single voice is of course better. But it is true there are still many different views. We can see there are problems in Germany. We hope to have a common position at the summit. But we cannot hide from the fact that at the moment, we can only hope.
Many measures are being discussed to help the European economy to recover. The European Commission proposed a series of concerted actions. But in general, the emphasis is on national efforts rather than EU-level action. What do you think of this line?
To face the economic crisis, we have to work in line with the Lisbon Strategy, which is a European policy to be applied at national level. When you have a problem in companies such as Fiat, Renault, Peugeot or the big German carmakers, it is mainly a national problem. They are national companies, not European. Therefore, every country will have to take measures which are not necessarily alike the others. Some countries do not even have a car industry. But it is crucial that Europe establishes a common framework, as it has done with the Lisbon Strategy.
Don’t you regret the lack of ambition in the European Commission’s proposals?
To be more ambitious the Commission needs a bigger budget. And this is not the case now.
That’s why you think that EU bond can be a solution?
We made a proposal suggesting studying the idea, although we are still debating it internally within the party. We think the EU budget is limited. If we want to do more, especially in terms of developing important European infrastructure, and also to tackle climate change, we need to explore alternative means. That’s why we suggested EU bonds. They could be a possible solution to the European need to finance common projects. We want this idea to be studied by the Commission and debated in the Council.
Experts are making it clear that the EU budget would provide the necessary guarantee to underpin EU bonds. Some states, like Germany, fear that this will increase the financial burden on their shoulders.
If you are a net contributor to the EU budget, it is normal to look at any new proposal with prudence. There should be debates and guarantees. We have to sign a common guaranteed deposit on behalf of Europe. We should stop hinting that a single country could pay more and others less. This is not possible, especially in a period of crisis.
Socialists in the European Parliament made similar proposals. It seems there is an increasing convergence between the main political parties, especially regarding financial and economic issues.
When you have to solve a significant problem, there are not many solutions to it.
Another issue of convergence is financial regulation.
We need rules and controls. In the current crisis, we saw that the ‘Gameboys’ played on the third floor, while the CEOs on the fourth floor did not know what was going on. We need new rules, even for the internal procedures of banks. The CEOs agree on this. They want better rules to understand what happens in their companies themselves. We also need general deontological codes at EU level.
To conclude, can we expect a common resolution from the Parliament on EU bonds by the end of its mandate?
We will do anything possibile to have it. The committee on economic and financial affairs is currently working hard on the subject.