MEPs call for greater say over economic governance

MEPs call for greater say over economic governance

Parliamentary groups seek a stronger role and threaten to delay important legislation.


6/16/10, 10:18 PM CET

Updated 4/12/14, 7:42 PM CET

The European Parliament’s four largest political groups issued a joint warning on  Wednesday (16 June) against any attempt by member states to sideline them over key decisions on economic governance and emergency measures to stabilise the eurozone. 

They threatened EU leaders that they would hold up important legislation – the EU’s 2011 budget or the European External Action Service (EEAS) – if the Parliament’s role under the Lisbon treaty was not fully respected. “We intend to fight for that,” said Guy Verhofstadt, leader of the liberal Alliance of Liberals and Democrats (ALDE).

This rare common stance – Verhofstadt was appearing with the leaders of the centre-right European People’s Party (EPP), the centre-left Socialists and Democrats (S&D) and the Greens – underlined their demand for a stronger role for EU institutions in economic management. They accused member states, notably France and Germany, of marginalising EU institutions.

“The institutions have been losing power and losing respect,” said Martin Schulz, leader of the S&D group. He said this “very strong signal” came from a majority of MEPs exasperated by backroom deals among large member states that excluded the European Commission and the Parliament.

Excluded from decisions

Verhofstadt said that EU institutions had to be in charge to achieve success with new economic governance rules, with stabilising the euro, with fully implementing the Europe 2020 jobs and growth programme, and with setting up the EEAS.

Many MEPs resent being excluded from recent decisions by national governments during the eurozone sovereign-debt crisis. The €110 billion fund for Greece agreed on 2 May, consisting of bilateral loans from member states, did not require approval by MEPs. And €440bn of the €500bn stability facility created for eurozone countries is being managed by a special entity outside the EU’s usual legal framework; governments used a treaty article designed for emergencies, which allowed them to avoid consulting MEPs.

The Parliament has potentially the greatest leverage over a €60bn stability facility because any loans provided will be guaranteed against funds from the EU’s 2011 budget. The Parliament has the final say over the EU’s budget in negotiations with national governments.

Alain Lamassoure, a French centre-right MEP who chairs the budgets committee, warned that MEPs would not accept being sidelined when member states set up the €60bn credit line.

“We can’t leave it at that. We must make sure that the guarantee of these potential loans are decided upon by the budgetary authority; that is to say, the Council and the Parliament,” he said.

Plans to set up the EEAS also depend on MEPs’ support as they have full co-decision rights over changes to EU rules on staff and financial controls. They could block the setting up of the service by refusing to approve essential changes unless their demands were met.

Constant Brand