German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble has praised Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy for the “great progress” he has made in structural reforms and refuted EU claims that Germany should be spending more to stimulate growth. EurActiv Spain reports.
“Through European solidarity, we can buy ourselves time and we have done that with bailout funds, but each country has to do its own homework with structural reforms,” Schäuble said at an economic forum held by the Süddeutsche Zeitung.
“It is not easy but they have made the effort. In France, Manuel Valls has taken important steps with difficulties within his own party; in Spain, Rajoy has made great progress; and Greece have taken steps in the right direction,” praised the CDU politician.
Schäuble also rejected the idea of EU Commissioner for Economic Affairs Pierre Moscovici that Germany, and the other main economic players, should spend more in order to generate growth.
Moscovici said earlier this week that “the Commission is acting as a finance minister of the euro area”. Schäuble quipped that “we’ll need a treaty change for that to happen, and we won’t get all 28 member states to approve in the next 15 days”.
The finance minister once again reiterated the importance of all member states meeting the standards that they have been set, warning that trust will not be built if these goals are not achieved.
Schäuble recalled talks that were held in the 1990s about whether a common currency would need a common fiscal policy and that, ultimately, it was decided that binding rules would be the preferable option.
Countries that encourage tax evasion should miss out on free trade agreements and access to banking, according to economist Joseph Stiglitz who urged Europe to take the lead in fighting tax dodgers in the wake of Donald Trump’s victory in the United States. EurActiv Germany reports.
“Common fiscal policy would mean transferring more competences to Brussels and that was something I advocated for at the time, but the UK and France were resistant,” said the minister.
He also rejected the claim that stability rules have made some countries worse off than others, insisting that “if some are worse off than others, it is because some do what they are supposed to and some don’t”.
The European Commission stepped up its efforts to leave austerity behind on Wednesday (16 November) by advocating for the first time a timid expansionary fiscal policy for the eurozone and forgiving Spain and Portugal for breaching EU budget rules.