Total Pageviews

Monday, 5 March 2018

Dutch take on Macron with ‘red lines’ over eurozone integration (FT)

"Mark Rutte, the Netherlands’ prime minister, has laid out uncompromising red lines on more eurozone integration, putting his government on a collision course with France’s Emmanuel Macron over the fraught issue of reforming the single currency area. 

In a speech that will entrench national differences over the eurozone, the Dutch prime minister said governments had to assume more responsibility for their economies rather than look to Brussels for help. 

“It’s time to get back into line. The recipe for a larger cake is not centralised bailout funds and printing more money, but structural reforms and sound budgets,” said Mr Rutte. 

The Dutch have become the EU’s most vocal opponents of plans in Paris and Brussels to embark on ambitious economic integration by creating a eurozone budget or appointing a single finance minister for the bloc. 

The Netherlands’ views also push back against Mr Macron’s desire to forge a Franco-German pact to pursue big economic reforms over the next few years. 

“It's not a French-German Europe. It’s not just about Macron and Merkel but collectively how we as a 27 agree on the way forward,” said Mr Rutte. Asking for money from other eurozone taxpayers had to be a “last resort, not first aid”.

The Dutch intervention — during a speech in Berlin — suggests that a compromise on the future of the euro remains out of reach for policymakers who have begun to grapple with sensitive areas such as how to complete the EU’s banking union

The Netherlands is also leading the charge to force investors to take losses on government bond holdings if a country needs a taxpayer bailout. The plans have already been rejected by France and Italy. 

Following the UK’s Brexit vote, the Netherlands has positioned itself as the leading EU member state calling for fewer transfers of economic and political sovereignty to Brussels — pushing back against visions for a deeper union championed by Jean-Claude Juncker, European Commission president. 

Mr Rutte reserved his most pointed criticism for the commission, insisting the EU was not an “unstoppable train speeding towards federalism”. He demanded the commission should work more for EU governments and “not the other way round”. 

As part of the Dutch push to give member states more control over economic management, Mr Rutte said a new European Monetary Fund — an idea supported by all 19 eurozone governments — should strip the commission of powers to enforce EU budget rules, design bailout programmes and carry out economic analysis. 

His insistence on having an independent EMF reflects dismay in other countries, including Germany and Finland, that the commission has failed properly to enforce punishment for breaking budget rules. There must be “no political assessment”, said Mr Rutte. 

The Dutch, supported by net contributors to the EU budget such as Austria, Sweden, and Denmark, also want a smaller common budget after Brexit. 

“My goal for the multi-annual budget is this: no increase in contributions, but better results within a smaller budget,” said Mr Rutte."

No comments:

Post a Comment