Speed up the reform of the monetary union?
The Eurogroup finance ministers have agreed on a reform of the monetary union. The ESM bailout fund is to be boosted in a bid to make the euro more crisis-proof. Macron's reform proposals, including the setting up of a Eurozone budget, are to be discussed further. Some commentators are disappointed at the minimal consensus. Others are glad that things are not moving too fast.
Rules don't apply in an emergency anyway
This is by no means a major reform, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung criticises:
“Many contentious details of the targeted reforms remain unresolved and have been postponed for a later date. ... The decision-making structure for the approval of ESM loans for bank and treasury also hasn't been clarified in detail. ... What's more, the question of what form the German-French prestige project of a Eurozone budget would take is as open as ever. No doubt it doesn't really matter whether and how these points are ultimately decided. When a crisis hits - whether it's a state bankruptcy, for example in Italy, or a bank crisis - the EU rules yet to be decided won't be worth much if the EU's long-standing traditions are anything to go by.”
Europe moving in the right direction
El País describes the agreement among the Eurozone ministers as a bitter-sweet victory:
“Sweet because the finance ministers have achieved two agreements that will strengthen the euro. ... Despite being wrapped up in abstruse legal jargon both instruments will benefit the citizens more than they benefit the banks. But this is very difficult to convey. For this reason the meagre results extracted with forceps are also bitter. ... The most encouraging aspect is the French commitment to the project: the French minister threatened to leave his seat empty if all prospect of the new budget was eliminated. And Germany's insistence on putting unemployment insurance back on the agenda was also encouraging. It will require an indescribable effort, but the heads of government have an opportunity to push both projects forwards at the upcoming summit. And to show that Europe is moving. In the right direction.”
Don't rush reforms
It's too early yet for the really big reforms, writes Die Presse:
“Instruments like euro bonds will be necessary one day if the euro is to become a full-fledged alternative to the dollar. And this is what is being talked about. But right now there's no need for major advances. What's needed is hard work in the capitals. Reforms and budget balancing measures. The proof that we can all stick to our own rules. Only that can secure the support of the people - and that is essential for the big steps. The introduction of the euro on 1 January 1999 was preceded by almost 40 years of preparations. It would be reckless now to put all that has been achieved at risk with rash reforms.”
The north wins the battle
The north, including the Netherlands, has won an important victory, De Volkskrant comments enthusiastically:
“The most important success for Dutch Finance Minister Hoekstra and his Hanseatic League - a club of ten northern European member states - is the commitment to ensure that the debts of euro countries that want help from the ESM in the future are sustainable. ... The northern countries also won a convincing victory in the battle to make European banks more crisis-proof. ... And then the famous 'shock funds' [Eurozone budget], which for Macron symbolise solidarity among the euro countries but for Prime Minister Rutte are a scourge. ... What is now on the table will never make this dream of the south come true in Hoekstra's view.”