The European Central Bank has a good way of setting out its agenda whilst protecting its boss, Mr Draghi, from any flack. The talkative Central Banker, Benoit Coeure, is a senior member of the ECB Board. He regularly gives interesting lectures gazing into a more integrated European future. These lectures appear on the official ECB website and are given in his ECB capacity. So they are official bank statements, but Mr Draghi falls short of putting his own name to them which might make them more newsworthy.
In his latest, Mr Coeure explains the urgent need for a Euro Treasury, the very Euro Treasury which Mr Draghi did in outline support when he added his name to other 4 Presidents in their statement of common policy. He tells us “Our (EU) institutional framework is not yet sufficient to complete EMU when it comes to economic, fiscal and financial matters. The ECB does not currently have a strong political counterpart in these areas”. He recognises the huge economic and social damage being done by the current Euro scheme: “The crisis (Greece) showed that excessive imbalances and fragilities have been allowed to develop in a number of Euro area countries in the absence of sufficient safeguards… the consequences are not just economic, they are also political. Unemployment hits the young hardest, creating a lost generation.”
His remedy is a Euro Treasury. This would both be able to enforce budget discipline on each member state, but also able to route money from rich to poor. “We cannot advocate a Europe of solidarity (transfer payments ed) while believing that the economic policies of each Euro area country are the business of that country’s Parliament alone”. Exactly. He and his Euro friends wish to sell the Euro Treasury to the Germans as the way to stop excess spending and excess credit in places like Greece, Spain and Portugal, and wants to sell the Euro to the struggling countries as the means for them to gain access to solidarity payments from the richer areas.
He sees this raises issues of accountability. He helpfully suggests ” The joint implementation of a political project and an economic strategy also assumes that our political union will be strengthened… I have spoken out in favour of the creation of a finance ministry for the whole Euro area under the oversight of the European Parliament”
This has serious repercussions for the UK. We are rapidly moving to a world where the Euro drives major political changes with decisions shifting to the centre. Mr Coeure wishes to use the single market as part of the mechanism for his reforms where the UK is directly involved. The banking union too increasingly envelops UK banks in its fold. Are we going to have two categories of MEP, those from Euro participating countries and those from outside? Or do we get to debate and vote the spending of their currency union money?