rompuyHerman Van Rompuy, President of the European Council, yesterday recorded video responses to a couple of questions from Debating Europe commenters (you can see these answers, along with others, on Van Rompuy’s Ask the President site). The first came from Gordon, who argued:

Clearly membership of the Eurozone is too difficult for Greece and consideration must be given to allow Greece (and others) the possibility of leaving the Eurozone, giving them the flexibility of devaluing.

Although the idea of a country leaving the Eurozone had been floated since the early days of the crisis, it was only when former Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou announced he wanted a referendum on his country’s bail-out terms that it actually became a serious possibility. In his answer, President Van Rompuy emphasises that European leaders have “never, never” argued amongst themselves that any country should leave the Eurozone. He says that the Eurozone is not “a café one can go in and out from at any time” and that membership of the Eurozone is permanent.

In his second answer, President Van Rompuy addresses a question from Amara Man asking when European leaders will stop “kidding themselves” and accept that the Euro is dead.

Is the Euro “dead”? What do YOU think? Next week might (really, this time) be a “make-or-break” summit for the Euro. European leaders will be meeting on 9th December to discuss proposals for “limited treaty change” and a “fiscal compact”. What would you say to them? Is membership of the Eurozone permanent? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below, and we’ll take them to Europe’s leaders for their reaction.

34 comments Post a commentcomment

  1. avatar
    Dave Atherton

    I would like to ask Mr. Van Rompuy if Greece and Italy, either or left the Euro, would he see it as a matter of honour to resign?

  2. avatar
    João Mamede

    Why can’t we revise the treaties and finally directly elect the council president, or the European commission president? Who’s against it, and who’s supporting it?

  3. avatar
    MandyandPj Leneghan

    What el presidento is saying is that once we have you, there is no escape and you vil comply…….unbelievable…pj

  4. avatar
    Edgaras Mascinskas

    Enough with this. Member states must decide what kind European Union they want to see. A fully integrated EU with single currency and fiscal union and etc. Being a global actor in international politics, acting as a single unitary actor. Or a Union based as Cameron stated Network. We cannot move on, if we cannot agree on where we want to go.

    I personally want to see a Federation of EU. And in the absence of global government I think that is the best choice we have now.

  5. avatar
    Christos Mouzeviris

    I am with Edgaras…But the one thing I want to ask Mr President and the other Leaders is, why does EU looks like a more intergovernmental organization, rather than a union of nation states?

    We have constantly “The big players” representing us (UK,France and Germany) and their leaders pushing for decisions and speaking for Europe and about Europe..What are the Leaders of smaller European nations doing? If the EU wants to succeed, we must see and secure the interests of all member states, no matter how small..

    Europe and EU is not only Germany..You got to also include the people in this crisis, since they are the ones who pay the price. Why does everything hang from Mrs Merkel’s and Mr Sarkozy’s mouths?

    I hope that the euro does have a future, but are our Governments willing to make the necessary sacrifices to achieve that? Will the rich north give the poor south a break and allow it to prosper, not with subsidies and bail outs but with real functioning economies and growth.

    I do not want a two tier Europe as this is yet another division. The rich and the poor, the north and the south, like we had east and west before. Solve it now! Or just leave it for good, but accept the criticism and the consequences after that.

    We have an opportunity to create and achieve something great, and offer our people stability. How you handle it is up to you, but remember history will remember your names as the ones who messed up an ambitious plan with huge potential…

  6. avatar
    Thursday Next

    Even if the euro is “dead”, why should this mean that the EU is dead? After all, it existed for decades before the euro was introduced. Somehow I have the feeling we’re scared stiff that we might have made a mistake. Everyone has a right to make mistakes. It’s not learning from them that’s dangerous. What is the worst thing that can happen if we decide that the euro was not a good idea?

    • avatar
      European Federalist with a conscience

      The euro is probably the most symbolic form of the Union of 27 (soon 28) Member States. Beyond the treaties and institutions that preceding generations envisioned and which were put in place, it’s really the most substantial ‘calling card’ we have for the EU. We shouldn’t forget that the EU was born as a long-term project for peace, cooperation, stability and prosperity. It’s like stop printing the head of state on national currency. Your country would fade out of the global context to the periphery. We cannot allow Europe to rescind into oblivion on the world stage!

      As yet we don’t own a ‘common’ European passport. Our Common Market is still an ongoing process. The telecom and energy markets indicate we’re at a construction phase for this. European lawmaking probably stands out as the most visible and effective way of regulating and structuring our Union… still it remains an arena of technocratic ‘lawgebra’ for a vast majority of lay citizens.

      It is tough to foresee the effect of a currency change – even if it will again be a common currency among ‘common-currency-viable’ EU members (e.g. without Spain, Portugal, Italy, Greece) then the risk is real that the markets of the others will be carnaged by a ‘fallout’ of financial, market and budgetary stimuli. The investors and companies need to be reassured of growth perspectives. Just look at the potent effect of investment from the EU15 countries to the EU10 (who joined in 2004) flows since 2004. Moving back to national currencies shall jeopardize that and further deteriorate the necessary stability of ratio between GDP and sovereign debt and ratio of intra-EU investments. Furthermre, the exponential increase of intra-EU investments was facilitated in great part by introduction of the euro. That’s why the euro has become a device that has become indispensible to bolster the economies and market(s) in the EU.

  7. avatar
    Michael Tsikalakis

    Euro and euro zone are not independed from the rest of the other countries of the world. Lets see the problem globaly and not specifically in two Euro-Zone countries or in the Political System of Europe. If USA, China, Rusia etc do not cooperate as they should then of course we can talk and assume everything. To my view, however you can see things it all leads to a Common International Currency and a Global Financial Ministry.

  8. avatar
    Peter Schellinck

    Europe is at an important cross road and golden opportunity to coach the Euro as “THE” alternative to the Dollar! It’s now or never. The Euro is NOT dead! Judging on the reactions from the US and rating agents, they are rather afraid of the power the Euro could have. If Europe want’s to remain a key player in the global future, knowing that we will not even represent 10% of the world population, then the Euro can be our trump card. Rather then deteriorating into an internal fight we should reunite, even if we are to break down national sovereignty, and face the world with one policy, one security, one foreign policy, one fiscal policy and one currency. By exchanging national sovereignty for the set up of a European sovereign debt pool mechanism (could be the EFSF supported by the EBRD) we can prove the world that we can solve our own debt problem. In doing so the European parliament should be empowered to take on the responsibility, as tools and treaties are already there. We have voted for the MP’s, so they represent our interest and should get on with their job. From a business prospective it is obvious that the less currencies, hence less exchange killers, the better it is to run the business then skid between the moods of exchange rates, depreciations and recessions. Further more by introducing a truly open internal market we could easily generate a 3 to 5 % economic growth and save billions of wasted funds used to support national governments. For the politicians it would be better too and avoid skidding between the moods of rating agents and frustrated citizens. The EURO will probably be the only one single thing for us Europeans available to secure an impact on the global economy of the coming centuries.

  9. avatar
    Josephine Cassar

    There is no division between North/ South as there are countries in the south(I am from Malta) which do not have deficit problems It is only the spendthrifts which must be controlled.the commission knew the Greeks had invented figures and did not want Geece to join, but the Governments-intergovernmentalism-wanted it to join the EU when it was not prepared for membership, out of fear that Russia would penetrate as far as the Mediterranean. Cameron had better not speak any more because his debt is greater than Greece’s. Why should the north support the debt of the spendthrifts?let them get their house in order themselves.The people of Greece were having it easy; they do not want to leave either the EU or the eurozone. Leaving the euro means devaluating the drachma which will have consequences for all, though it might solve Greece’s problem temporarily. What we need is treaty reform so that rules are tighter and KEPT. Of course, Merkel is at the forefront: germany will pay most though France has the most invested in Greece(but Sarkozy has elections round the corner so suggests eurobonds which are a temporary solution and a precedent). Let the EP show us some treaty changes and be more visible.

  10. avatar
    Steve Patriarca

    You are right of course but to stick with the dead idea ands to submit us all to a Franco German dictatorship. This is to try to destroy the EU itself. Does Merkel and her little French puppet not know there are other successful – albeit smnall – Euro economies in Europe. We would like a seat at the table too. We pay our taxes, honour our debts…and what are we? Some Franco German Anschuss again. Then they will get upset when we vote against the Centre party coaltion. What are we supposed to do?

  11. avatar
    Christos Mouzeviris

    Josephine…the Greeks were having it easy…?? You must be joking…What do you know about life in Greece..?? do you get your information only of what you read in the media…?? Then your opinions are biased…Sorry…You mean the Greek elites were having it easy, because the people were left in their ignorance with the criminal tolerance of the rest of the European leaders…But why did the rest of Europe turned a blind eye to the Greek deficit? perhaps because by driving the country bankrupt they could manipulate it more easily? perhaps if they interfered with another country’s internal affairs and economy that would mean that they should allow other states to do so with their economy and books..? and they did not want to release the skeletons in their closet? perhaps to make Greece go bust so that they could take all its natural resources? Mr Juncker admitted that they knew about Greece’s bad shape of its economy yet he could do nothing about it..why? who stopped him? why didn’t do something a decade ago once they knew there was a problem? think about those things…

  12. avatar
    Josephine Cassar

    Christos, I never said the Greeks were having it easy at all. there is a lot of corruption though which needs controlling and the govts have not been able to – dead people still getting pay/ social services payments etc for their families,tax evasion etc, the govt still fills the public service instead of controlling- the public service is too much, still increasing in spite of situation. True that European leaders turned a blind eye till too late for all bt we do not want to suffer-we are- because of Greece, so it and the defaulting countries, must put their act together. Merkel & Sarkozy are at the forefront but other countries-Finland,Slovakia, are also opposing granting aid to Greece. Te growth of far-right movements(Finland, Holland) will surely see to no aid. Unfortunately, Greece, Italy and ther countries will have to put their act ogether. Politicians worsen things: we need technocrats ike Monti, not politicians. sorry but Greece was never a mover in EU even if it held the presidency(we havent yet but go to seek the next presidency to put our agenda forward. Greece’s politicians were inactive in EU, and no I do not ttake info from media as biased as you say but rather from official sources.

  13. avatar
    Christos Mouzeviris

    So Josephine you are talking about the Greek political elite that was having it easy..Not the people..There is a difference..Then we agree…Because they were doing nothing, not for the country, not for EU..We kept changing Governments hoping for some change, but nothing was happening…In fact, as sad as it sounds, Greece does not need its own Parliament..The country was being run on itself, with economic assistance/orders by the EU, and political idleness. That is why I support a federal Europe…Simply because our political elites (not only Greece’s but many of the EU nations) are corrupt, they were established after WW2 and kept the power with dealings between them..Intergovernmental dealings and agreements..But the fault is not only Greece’s political elite, but also the European political elite overall…Remember, it was the West (aka Europe and America) that they shaped and influenced the Greek political elite and scene with active intervention (Greek civil war, junta) and those who they helped to be established run the country with orders from i do not know who….they just leave the country running on its own like a boat without captain…Europeans knew that but they did nothing…they just kept giving them subsidies to keep the country of social welfare..literally…inactive, unproductive, and with no direction….We need to get rid off our political elites and reboot Europe politically..only then things will move forward…

    you say Greece and other countries to get their act together…will they allow us to get our act together..?do they really want us to…?? imagine if Greece became as rich or wealthy like Holland, Finland, Germany or Sweden…a thing that all of us Greeks want to, but it is impossible to achieve…why? because the system is wrong..because it was designed wrong from the much so that i think it was designed so not to allow Greece to become a rich country…There are so many loopholes in the Greek law system that allow people to escape punishment or confuse them so much with red tape, that they just do not would be easy for our politicians to sit down and copy their European partners..we are all cooperating in EU..and it would be so easy for the European elites to force the Greek elite to get its act together…Why it did not happen, and who is to blame..?? I wonder…

  14. avatar
    Josephine Cassar

    Your quarrel is with the Greek govt then, not with the EU. the EU gave you special concessions, even veto power,you even joined before Spain and Portugal or Ireland(?)the eU is to blame as it did not take notice of the problem before it got too big but that is what happens with politicians. We are a much smaller country with less resources but make the most of them, but greek govt had more resources but never took the opportunities of membership. Malta is the smallest but registered progress in spite of limitations but our govts go for them, not wait for them and expect the EU to do things for us. The commission likes to single out small countries but let greece go. hope your elites solve the problems.I understand the Greeks’ feeling and rebellion but strikes only make matters worse for you.anyway, you do not want to leave either the EU or the euro, so you have to do sacrifices as we are doing too, though in our case, it is because of euro countries and the trouble ther was with Libya that affected us a lot. Put a technocrat instead of politicians like Italy; you will suffer for a time but get your house in order for future generations. good luck

  15. avatar
    Christos Mouzeviris

    I never said I was against EU….I am pro-EU, but anti Greek government, and anti national governments, anti intergovernmental arrangements of EU…I support a strong and fully functioning EuroParliament..The problem with technocratic governments is that no one has voted for them…They are not democratically elected.. and who knows who do they serve, or who do they answer to? certainly not the people since they did not vote for them…our democracy has came down to this…to not to have democracy so that we can have better democratic functions…!!! absurd..!!

  16. avatar
    Miscarea Tehnocrata Romania Noastra

    2. I wait to see the plans for a more stroger EU. In the actual state EU DO NOT WORK PROPERLY. This is clear. A lot of independent states with common rules goes to nowhere. Everybody do what wants and what does creates consequences for all. This thing just can’t work. EU, or at leas eurozone, needs 1 president, 1 government, 1 parliament and simultaneous elections.

  17. avatar
    Miscarea Tehnocrata Romania Noastra

    3. The rating agencies are a COMPLETE DISASTER. In Crisis they must not play with ratings. Low ratings is producind PANIC and this make crisis worse. The Economy MUST BE an EXACT science and NOT to be a system based on PANIC and social behaviour. Economy it’s about NUMBERS / STATISTICS, not about panic. So, all organisms that are inducing panic in economy must be regulated to avoid this OR ABANDONED.

  18. avatar
    Miscarea Tehnocrata Romania Noastra

    4. If Euro zone will become a STABLE and PREDICTABLE zone in the world, most probably the other states (UK, Poland, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria etc) will accept to lose some of their sovereignty and to become full members of the New Europe. In the actual state is not interesting to become for example member of Euro zone. If Euro zone it will not becom STABLE and FAST, EU CAN BRAKE APART. In UK there are already strong debates about this thing. In Romania are too but not officially.

  19. avatar
    Josephine Cassar

    There is no more to say as I fully agree with you this time. I too feel the EP should have more powers -but scrutinised themselves too- and it has been absent throughout all this as decisions are Intergovernmental. Technorats are not democratically elected and may have interest too but i know MEPs who have other jobs-1 of ours sure, so more scrutiny and accountability. One of our MEPs does everything unrelated to malta but then gets votes as can spend mney before elections. Artices that appear do not benefit anyone but electorate does not see this as hoodwinked. so agreement and apparently, what we both want-maore involvement of EP -is not so far-fetched but govts will never agree

  20. avatar
    Victor Theofilopoulos

    The whole thing is a put up job. Greece’s corrupt governemnt were funded mainly by Germany and German companies such as Siemens who corrupted Greek state institutions by black money. Germany is the root cause of this crisis or rather its neo-fascist expanionist politics. It wants to render Greece and the whole of southern Europe banana republics and lower the wage rates and living standards to those of countries such as Guatamela and Nicaragua so that it can pruchase everything – resources etc at bargain prices. The crisis is happening in Greece, because Greece has huge oil reserves and huge metal and mineral wealth in addition to solar and aeolian potential for power and energy. German companies are currently exploiting these resources and are transporting them to Germany where they then force Greece to but back its own resources at twice or triple the price. Everyhting else is sidetalk. This si the real issue behind the crisis and of course European corrupt bureaucracy is gaining huge profits at not tackling this issue head on. Greece however, must shine again and must give Europe at least the right to beleive and hope once again. If Greece falls then the whole of Europe falls. If Greece is able to re-instate democracy, values, ethos and ethics then there are better days ahead.

    • avatar

      Germany is already buying up Eastern Europe any way it can. Just visit Poland and you can see it plainly if you spend a little time here.

  21. avatar
    Josephine Cassar

    Greece does not have any oil; it pretends to, but has no right to it as is between Cyrus/Turkey, but wants to appropriate it.Why don’t you leave the EU then if you fell exploited? We are southerners but do not feel exploited and managed to negotiate the avoidance of the transaction tax, even though we are the smallest island- we take our opportunities; Greece has always been passive, not a mover in EU, even though it assumed the presidency by which a country learns a lot: we haven’t yet.You accepted Germany’s investment when it suited you and should develop the discipline Germany has.It has to call the shots since it is the biggest lender, not like France which only offers half-baked solutions. get ou and stay out, like the UK; they should leave as they have more debt than you; luckily they are not in the eurozone.The EU will grow stronger. Hungary is in no way fit to join the euro, Romania neither as has to tackle black economy, corruption, has a lotot catch up with; Poland is ready and is facing difficulties because of a few countries,so more strict control is needed.
    the standard of living you refer to is not true, but money no problem does not hold any more.

  22. avatar
    Christos Mouzeviris

    Josephine I am sorry but why then the Norwegians and the Americans want to come and offer us their “help” in exploiting out gas and oil? Why there was a british company that wanted to come and exploit our gold that it exists in the north of the country..if there is none as you say, then why people are asking our islands as a guarantee for the two loans that we should not have gotten in the first place…?? do you thing it is honorable for “partners” to ask land and water from a “partner” in order to offer them “assistance”..?? you do not have all the data…yes , our political elite was passive…they are doing nothing to promote our national interests….or european for that matter….why is that do you think…??

    in my opinion we are not a democracy, we are an oligarchy, led by a few families and their collaborates for decades…but those few oligarchs were established by the west since we formed our state…they wanted us to have a king, they gave us a king..(the Glucksburgs, now how Greek is that name, that they still call themselves the Greek royal family, i do not know…) then when we decided to get rid of them, they had other collaborators, dragging Greece into WW1, while a few years back they were promising land to Greece in order to keep it under their influence, making it have a war with the Turks, only later to change their minds again and that led to the Asia Minor disaster…more grief and poverty and deprivation for our nation….WW1, WW2, again we wanted to be neutral, they did manage to drag us in both wars…you get the pattern? Greece was the little toss ball for the big european powers for the past century, and it was never given peace and stability to progress and prosper…simply because the balkans are very valuable for europe politically geo-strategically and so on…these people that lead us are supported or were established by the western powers in order to keep greece into their sphere of influence…. over the time, their power and greed grew so much that they became used to getting large sums from europe in order to keep them in power…and that is what they are still doing….

    so please stop pointing the finger..only when europe decides that greece must become a wealthy country like them, Greece will become so….and yes, there is gas under Crete…go and talk to the natives….go to greece and talk to people…there was a research done, my a university in the norther greek region of macedonia..they found a lot of uranium over is well known to the locals…they gave their report to the Greek government, hoping that they will do something about it, create new jobs for the region, an extra income, by exploiting it…our government did nothing…check it was the university of Joannina in the northern Greece region of Epirus that made the research…

    in my mother’s home town they even had an opening celebration when they found gas….suddenly, the exploitation procedures stopped…they were never given the go ahead to do it..why? by whom’s authority and decision…?? there are so many things that you do not know, that better make some research before make any conclusions..


    • avatar

      Well this is certainly intersting information which for me makes things a bit clearer.

      In Poland “suddenly” shale gas has been found and American companies are falling over themselves coming here. My guess there was a hidden strategy to all this Union Building. Acess to Markets and Access to Resources !!!! That is the game.

      Now if you have managed to find a way to drive the poor sucker into Debt, you can buy him up for cheap !!!!

      I can not forget the disaster of Greece hosting the Olymics. What the heck was that for? To get the country into debt. Simple. Now here in Poland they “gave” us Euro 2012. The billions spend on this are going to foreign companies (German) and those stadiums will NOT pay for themselves over the years once the event is over. Hence, DEBT !!!!!! Then who has money can buy up the house cheap.

      Nice Plan, as the sheep will not get it and the politicians give a flip as they get their cut.

  23. avatar

    If membership of the eurozone is to be «permanent», then the «monenary policy» of the eurozone should allow the permanence to all its members.

    There three variables in this equation:
    #1 – The strenght of the euro
    #2 – Which members are allowed to stay
    #3 – The mechanisms of (financial) adjustment
    Just like in any equation that is to be solved, there mus be a mathematical «degree of freedom». Mr. Rompuy can decide about any two of these cariables, but only two. The third variable must be allowed to adjust.

    For example, IF the euro is be so strong a currency as it is now (35% to 45% abobe the dollar and risisng) AND no margin is allowed for deficits (as the liquidity crisis of the eurozone imposes), then the third variable, «permanence in the eurozone» must be allowed to adjust.

    However, if «permamnence in the eurozone» is ti be taken as non-negociable, then the equation must be allowed to adjust elsewhere. Mr. Rompuy can have his wish, but then he must choose which of the other two variable to «let go» of. Either the «monetary policy» of the EURO changes, accomodating the lesser competitivity of all its members OR debt is allowed to accumulate, continuing the policy of «filling the gap with debt» of the last 10 years.

    I personally opposed the debt policy, since always. It is just not sustainable. It’s not a system. Though many bankers and most politicians would gladly go back to the same model of speculation, deficit and debt that fed europeans pseudo-economic growth in the last decade, «I» really think it would be a mistake to go back to that ponzi scheme. But that’s just my opinion.

    Since debt it «not an option»; not in the long run, anyway, either the monetary poloci of the eurozone adjusts to economic realities or, if the european moneraty policy of the eurozone is to remain unchanged, countries that can not change their economic structure within the debt-window of an «adjustment program» must be allowed to leave the eurozone.

    Now.. there is only so much which can be achieved in 2 or 3 years. An adjustment program, which is nothing else than a stop-gap debt program to five the equation some elasticity, must be limited. It is limited by time (one can not run a deficit for ever) and by the ammount of debt involved (the larger the deficit the less time you can remain on the adjustment plan). Academic, since several eurozone countries are way past any of these two points.

    At the end of the day, Mr. Rompuy MUST DECIDE where he is allowing the equation to adjust: temporarily, Mr. Rompuy may indeed have both a «strong euro» and an «all-aboard» eurozone. This can be achieved through acumulating a deficit (or structurally correcting it, which would require several years of germany importing more). But in a time-windows of 2 to 3 years, Mr. Rompuy must decide what to let go: either let go of the super-EURO @ 1,5 dolars or let go of Greece.

    It’s not a complicated choice: it’s a very clear choice.. so long as you know what you want and respect reality.

  24. avatar
    Francesco Pieromonti

    I would like ask to Mr. President, Herman Van Rompuy, why not choose English as a common language which is necessary in all jobs in EU states, thus enabling the real movability of workers and citizens and easily breaking down the language barriers? Cordial Greetings!

  25. avatar

    Dear Mr. Van Rompuy
    Do not you think that it is time to return to the gold standard?

  26. avatar

    Dear Mr. Van Rompuy
    You don’t believe that legislation should articulate internal enlargement of the EU territories who want to become independent states, but continue in the EU as Catalonia?

  27. avatar
    Tarquin Farquhar

    The Kingmaker in determining if the EU has even a slim chance of competing with the USA is the UK. LET THE UK CHERRY PICK OTHERWISE the UK will join the USA, CANADA, AUSTRALIA, NZ and more to consign the EU to the sidelines!!

    Unless the likes of France and Spain realise the above, the EU is doomed to a slow and lingering death!!!

  28. avatar

    There is really no debate at all. Mr Van Rompuy is with all due respect a president whom has no country. Self-proclamation is a diversionary tactic to spin the eurofile agenda, nice try but no cigar..
    Until the people have been asked to give up thier hard earned countries in Fed/NoFed referendums theres just not a justifiable debate.
    Sorry Mr president, but well, your not really a president, maybe from your bookclub or golfclub ,but actually thats it. This is not criticism, just the undeniable truth.
    Ask us what we want !!!!
    All the debates on earth wont solve the fed problem!!!

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