Last February (on Twitter) I floated the idea of a Euro Group of MEPs with additional decision-making powers, especially over a Eurozone budget that should be on top of the normal budget, to help balance out the Eurozone politically and economically:
There is a Euro Group in the Council but none in the European Parliament. I think it is time to change this. A Euro Group in the EP – consisting of all MEPs from Eurozone countries – could run a Eurozone budget (on top of the normal EU budget) and take spending decisions with the overall macroeconomic health and strategic inetrests of the currency zone in mind. The Eurozone budget could be generated by new taxation (especially a new financial transaction tax levied across the Eurozone would be a good start). There should also be a rather short budget cycle – not the long-term framework the overall EU budget works under – which should create more political debate about investment and spending priorities and could thus make parliamentary business more interesting.
I did get some feedback about this but haven’t heard about the idea until today I read that it got some traction among some European governments under the name of a ‘Eurozone Parliament’ (are they secretly reading SEJ?):
Eurozone heads of state and finance ministers now routinely issue statements or take decisions for the 17 countries using the euro, creating a de-factor two-speed Union in the Council.
Some eurozone states have proposed that the European Parliament adapt by allowing a smaller group of MEPs to hold votes on legislation, relating to eurozone countries only – thus so creating a ‘eurozone parliament’.
I still think this is a very good idea and could help to democratise the Eurozone. But then I read on and noticed this reaction by Hannes Swoboda, leader of the S&D group:
Hannes Swoboda, chair of the Socialists & Democrats in the European Parliament, dismissed the notion out of hand. “The idea of creating a eurozone parliament is absolute nonsense and would be counter-productive,” he said. “The euro is our currency, there is no need for a parliament at currency level. We have the European Parliament and national parliaments to work on the issues at hand, which they are doing,” he added.
He was joined by the co-leader of the Green group:
“The establishment of a eurozone parliament would be more of a hindrance than a help,” said MEP Rebecca Harms, co-president of the Greens/EFA. “It would blur the institutional architecture of Europe and undermine the community method,” she told EurActiv, stressing that the assembly as a whole should be responsible for democratic oversight and legislation for the eurozone.
Their statements might well have been shortened but the quotes above do not contain a single credible argument against the introduction of this. The current institutional structure is obviously not working well and the European Parliament is surely not in the driving seat in Eurozone matters (neither are national parliaments). This is also not about blurring the institutional architecture but about making it clearer. If the EP is meant to be further empowered in Eurozone matters it needs a Euro Group, a Eurozone parliament or whatever you want to call it. If you think this should be a job for the whole of the EP (including non-Eurozone MEPs) read up on the West Lothian Question.