German finance minister talks of EU-wide elected president

Eurozone map in 2009 Category:Maps of the Eurozone
Zone of sorrows. Image via Wikipedia

Yesterday’s edition of Le Monde had an interview with Wolfgang Schäuble, the German finance minister, on the future of the Eurozone, which suggested (not for the first time) that there might be some big proposals to come from the Germans on further European integration – and, hearteningly, building greater democratic legitimacy. Here are a few bits from the interview, in my probably inadequate translation:

Monde: Do you think that the economic crisis in Europe will result in political progress?

WS: Yes, crises are opportunities.

Monde: Even this one?

WS: Yes, we have the chance for Europe to carry on moving forward. It’s our great mission. … The EU has always moved forward step by step, often starting with economic integration. Political structures have lagged behind because [changes] always require the support of the sovereign people in the member states. We now know that “single currency plus stability pact” isn’t enough. We have to build political structures that will make fiscal policies converge. … We have to change the treaties, this is the road we have to go down if we are to show the investors of the world that the Euro [will last].

Monde: Is Germany preparing for a division of the Eurozone?

WS: Absolutely not. We rather want to create the mechanisms that will keep it stable, and … to give more powers to the EU or the Eurozone to bring that about.

Monde: A new treaty?

WS: No, but limited modifications to the current one.

Monde: What are you hoping for from your party congress on Monday?

WS: People often say that I’m the last pro-European in the CDU [Merkel’s party]. That’s completely untrue. Look at the questions we’re debating in the congress tomorrow – for example the election of the EU Commission president by universal suffrage. That would be a real revolution, it would give us a true European government. I don’t think it will happen quickly, but the discussion is underway. If we elect a president of the Commission through a Europe-wide electoral campaign, then Europe after the elections will never be the same again.

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Published by Anthony Zacharzewski

Anthony Zacharzewski was one of the founders of Demsoc in 2006. Before starting work for Demsoc in 2010, he was a Whitehall civil servant and a local government officer.

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