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Reacting to economic affairs commissioner Olli Rehn’s plans to strengthen the eurozone rules in the wake of the Greek debt crisis, Guy Verhofstadt, ALDE group leader today urged EU finance ministers to back them at their meeting tomorrow.
“I commend Olli Rehn for responding to the lessons of the Greek crisis and its implications for the wider eurozone. In laying out his plans to strengthen the enforcement mechanisms of the Stability and Growth Pact he has grasped the bull by the horns.”
“The underlying principles of sound public finance enshrined in the SGP remain valid. The only problem was enforcing them. Over the last few years we have witnessed a slow but steady erosion of financial discipline in the eurozone which became widespread under the pressures of the financial crisis. For the long term stability of the Single Currency we absolutely need credible mechanisms for limiting public deficits and debt, including the possibility of sanctions for Member States who persistently exceed public sector spending limits.”
“The European Union has a number of tools at its disposal to leverage compliance with common rules which have been further strengthened by the Lisbon Treaty. The Commission is now right to be deploying the new legal base to upgrade its armoury of dissuasive instruments to encourage greater financial responsibility from Member States.”
“As regards the development of a permanent bailout facility in the event of future sovereign debt crises, all options need to be studied carefully. The idea of a European Monetary Fund should be thoroughly examined for its feasibility within the existing framework of the Treaties. Whatever formula is chosen, the Commission should be at the heart of coordinating any measures to struggling economies in the eurozone.”