The Eurozone is broken. On that point, everyone seems agreed. Calls for reform have been gathering momentum, with French President Emmanuel Macron and EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker both setting out tentative proposals. Both men would like to see the position of a common European Finance Minister created, with Macron (but not Juncker) arguing the role should include supervision of a common Eurozone budget. Is this what the euro needs?
The Commission has already presented ideas for a European Minister of Economy and Finance to EU leaders. The new role would simultaneously be a vice-president of the European Commission and head of the Eurogroup. Above all, supporters of the idea argue that the new EU Finance Minister should not mix national with European interests, but should ensure investment across Europe at the same time as guaranteeing “budget discipline”. But will he or she be provided with sufficient powers to meet these goals?
Could an EU finance minister increase democratic accountability? The Eurogroup has been meeting for 20 years to informally agree policy. There are hardly any rules at these meetings, which is of course something seized upon by eurosceptics, who argue that the fate of countries like Spain and Greece are being decided behind closed doors. Having a single EU Finance Minister would create a clear point of contact for affected countries. He or she would then also be responsible for a European Monetary Fund, which, like the International Monetary Fund, should be able to help crisis countries.
What do our readers think? We had a comment from Denis calling for a joint EU Finance Minister with a common budget for Europe. To get a response, we put his proposal to Hans-Olaf Henkel, a German MEP elected to the European Parliament for the eurosceptic AfD in 2014 but who now represents the Liberal Conservative Reformers (LKR). Does he think we need a common EU Finance Minister?
No, not at all. On the contrary, I think we have to stop believing in the benefits of a Single Currency. Since the introduction of the euro, for example, we have seen extremely high levels of unemployment, especially among young people… A Single Currency that fits the different contexts of different economies makes as much sense as making one shirt that fits all sizes… No, responsibility for economic and financial policy must be at the national level, because at the national level there are institutions that offer democratic control and accountability. In a currency such as the euro, democratic control is not possible. We have experienced that already with the behaviour of the European Central Bank, printing money without end. At the end of the day, the German taxpayer or their children have to pay for it
Should Europe have a common finance minister? Should the Eurozone have a common budget? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!