Parliament plans to play tough in EMU negotiations

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European Parliament group leaders met yesterday (2 October) to lay down their negotiating tactics for discussing with other EU presidents a roadmap for the economic and monetary union (EMU). They said that although a treaty change is inevitable in the medium term, much can be achieved within the current treaties, especially in thefiscal area.

European Commission President José Manuel Barroso is expected to present a proposal for an economic and monetary union at the 18-19 October summit of EU leaders, along with European Council President Herman Van Rompuy, Eurogroup President Jean-Claude Juncker, and ECB President Mario Draghi.

Full negotiations will begin on Thursday (4 October) and the roadmap will be presented to the October European Council, but will be formally adopted during the December European Council.

The four leaders have already presented an initial report, Towards a Genuine Economic and Monetary Union, at the June EU summit, and were tasked with continuing their work. However, opposition in the European Parliament is strong.

"All decisions concerning the euro need parliamentary legitimacy. Recent tendencies to 'deparliamentarise' and bypass parliaments are deeply worrying,” said Parliament President Martin Schulz, who will represent the assembly together with the so-called sherpas: three top MEPs Elmar Brok (EPP, DE), Roberto Gualtieri (S&D, IT), Guy Verhofstadt (ALDE, BE), with Daniel Cohn-Bendit (Greens/EFA, FR) being a substitute member of the sherpa group.

“Politics needs the people's trust even more than that of the markets. We can create this trust through parliamentary scrutiny and debate. The European Parliament will not stand idly by should decisions be made in increasingly parliament-free zones," he added.

The negotiating mandate points out that accountability structures are already in place, in the shape of the European Parliament and national parliaments, and the goal should be to strengthen them further.  

All systems and mechanisms related to the new EMU – for example, the European Stability Mechanism, the Troikas, and the financial supervisor – must be subject to thorough scrutiny by the European Parliament which would go beyond the current scrutiny rights of the EP in the economic and monetary area.  

The paper also underlines the benefits of cooperation between the European and national parliaments to ensure that closer economic integration is accountable at all levels. The mandate calls for national parliaments to be brought more often into the EMU picture to allow them to hold their governments to account on these matters.

At the June EU summit, European leaders were presented with a report and tentative roadmap on the eurozone's longer term future.

The report, Towards a Genuine Economic and Monetary Union, was drafted jointly by European Council President Herman Van Rompuy and European Commission President José Manuel Barroso in collaboration with Eurogroup President Jean-Claude Juncker and European Central Bank (ECB) President Mario Draghi.

The most far-reaching suggestions in the report included:

  • Setting "upper limits" on member states' annual budgets;
  • "Prior approval" for issuing government;
  • debt "beyond the level agreed in common";
  • Issuance of "common debt" as a medium term option;
  • Setting up an EU "treasury office";
  • Closer coordination on "labour mobility" and "tax coordination".
  • 4 Oct.: Start of negotiations for the roadmap on the Economic and Monetary Union
  • 18-19 Oct. 2012: Interim report on finalising the economic and monetary union to be presented at EU Summit in Brussels
  • 13-14 Dec. 2012: Final report and roadmap for further economic and monetary union to be adopted by EU leaders at Brussels summit


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