Verhofstadt: 'Commission should lead on economic governance'
Published: 14 September 2010
Proposals on the shape of Europe's economic governance infrastructure should be put forward by the EU executive – not the Van Rompuy task force – according to Guy Verhofstadt, leader of the liberal group in the European Parliament.
Verhofstadt said it is up to the European Commission to make legislative proposals in this area rather than ceding power to a group chaired by European Council President Herman Van Rompuy.
"What Mr Van Rompuy is doing is very useful, but in the end of the day, it's up to the Commission to take a legislative initiative, based on this and other input. It's not up to the Parliament or the Council. The Task Force cannot replace the right of initiative of the Commission," he told EurActiv in an interview.
Verhofstadt said he was pleased to hear Commission President José Manuel Barroso's announcement that he will bring forward a package of proposals on economic governance on 29 September.
He also welcomed Barroso's support for eurobonds, which could be sold to raise capital for infrastructure investment. This, says Verhofstadt, is something he himself proposed in his 2009 book 'The Way Out of the Crisis'.
"I remember, a year ago, the Commission was still very negative when I spoke in a plenary session about eurobonds. But now it is making them part of its proposals. The idea of eurobonds was already used by the European Investment Bank, but it was limited. Now it is becoming a more common practice," said Verhofstadt.
The Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) leader said that while he is against throwing out of the EU member states that fail to comply with new economic governance rules, countries could be punished by being excluded from the benefits of the proposed eurobond scheme.
Verhofstadt hit back at member states that have called for the EU budget to be cut by up to 30%, saying this would do severe damage to research funds and the goals of the 'Europe 2020' growth plan.
"Cutting the budget by 20% or 30% is a non-starter. Those who think this is possible are dreaming," the ALDE chief said.