Step-by-step Eurozone reform

The European Commission has presented plans for reorganising the Eurozone that include replacing the emergency mechanisms created during the financial crisis with reforms. To avoid contention Brussels has dropped plans for a euro finance minister endowed with his own budget for the time being and is proposing European bonds whose exact function is yet to be determined. Has the Commission got its priorities right?

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De Volkskrant (NL) /

Solidarity alone is not enough

The European Commission is right to think seriously about reforming the Eurozone, De Volkskrant comments approvingly:

“In its proposals Brussels puts the emphasis on solidarity [between the rich north and the poor south]. … But this won't make the euro more popular in the northern European countries, and in the end it will result in further political instability. To teach the southern European countries to be financially disciplined Europe has no choice but to consider the use of automatic sanctions. The euro countries can only come closer together if they are willing to kick countries that violate the agreements out of the euro at least temporarily, so that their currencies can be devalued.”

taz, die tageszeitung (DE) /

Not the way to save the Eurozone

The European Commission's proposals are completely unrealistic, taz believes:

“The idea is that a few changes should be made by 2025. In fact it will be a miracle if the Eurozone still exists in 2025 if the reforms continue to proceed at the present snail's pace. … But at least the EU Commission has tackled a taboo topic. It has called for the euro countries to pool their debts - in other words issue Eurobonds. However, the EU Commission has deliberately avoided using the word 'Eurobonds' - and they would be used for only a fraction of government bonds. Brussels is too fearful of upsetting the Germans, who insist on each country taking responsibility for itself. The concept of each state 'being responsible for itself' may sound fair but it blows up the Eurozone from within. … Rich Germany is growing richer while the rest lose out. The Eurozone can't go on like this. Not even until 2025.”

Kathimerini (GR) /

Trust crucial for future of the monetary union

More important than new rules for the euro is building up trust between the members of the Eurozone, Kathimerini stresses:

“Why is Greece continually an outcast? How can we pretend all is well with the euro? Over the past years, many mistakes were made, both by the creditors and by Greece. The lack of trust between the two sides, though, has been the biggest problem. Those designing Europe’s future should propose how this wound will be healed. Because any partnership is more than rules and regulations, it has to inspire faith and hope.”

Deutschlandfunk (DE) /

Few precise ideas in the super election year

For Deutschlandfunk the proposals are just a bunch of colourful but vague ideas:

“This is naturally owing to the political reality of the situation. As long as it remains unclear how strong the new French President Emmanuel Macron will be after the parliamentary elections and until the German elections are over the Commission is playing it safe. Particularly as politicians in the capitals are immersed in haggling over reform plans. This devaluates the current initiative. And to make matters worse many of the ideas aren't even new. So there can be no talk of fresh impetus for the development of the economic and monetary union, even though it's high time for a frank debate on this matter.”

De Standaard (BE) /

Union shaking off its fears

Despite all the justified criticism it is nevertheless clear that Europe is once again looking to the future with renewed courage, De Standaard counters:

“There is still a long way to go. The plan calls for solidarity and limits on national sovereignty. Comparisons with a group of mountaineers all attached to the same rope come to mind. Those who stumble must be propped up again, but every climber has the duty to start out fit and well prepared. ... We can complain about things that are lacking, and that the plans will be worthless if various member states don't clearly back them. But at least now the grim visions of the state of the Union after Brexit seem to have come to at an end. As the US and Britain withdraw into their own shells, a united Europe must also show that that is the wrong direction.”

24 Chasa (BG) /

The right time for major reforms

This is the perfect time for reforming the Eurozone, 24 Chasa explains:

“The EU Commission long since presented proposals for reforms but they failed owing to resistance from the UK, Germany's reluctance, the weakness of the government in France and the Eurosceptics, who gained momentum after the financial crisis. Now a unique opportunity has opened up. On the one hand changes are needed after the Brexit shock, on the other Macron's election increases the leeway for reforms both in France and in Europe. The budget deficits of the EU member states have decreased and almost all of them fulfil the financial discipline criteria, which should have a calming effect on Germany. And last but not least the EU is seeing sustainable economic growth and the creation of new jobs.”

Gazeta Wyborcza (PL) /

States without the euro will be left behind

It would be bad news for Poland if the Eurozone had its own budget, Gazeta Wyborcza writes:

“If both budgets [the current EU budget and the Eurozone budget] are negotiated at the same time, the risk will increase that funds for the future euro budget will be drawn from the budget for all of the EU, whose main recipient is Poland. ... This poses the question of whether German or French taxpayers will prefer to invest in countries like Portugal, which have a direct impact on the fate of the common currency, or decide to show solidarity and share the money between the Eurozone and non-Eurozone countries, that is with Poland and Hungary, which receive a lot of money from Brussels but then disregard the Commission's recommendations on the rule of law.”