European Commission unveils plans to deepen eurozone ties while the "sun is shining"

 
Oliver Gill
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European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker is keen for eurozone members to get closer (Source: Getty)

Sweeping changes have today been unveiled by the European Commission, putting the eurozone on a path towards deeper economic and monetary union.

Brussels wants to create a new fund to help bail out struggling member states and tabled a controversial idea of a European finance minister.

The proposals do not go as far as leaked versions previously indicated – something that had attracted criticism from some member states. They build on European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker state of the union speech in September.

The steps need to be taken during a "window of opportunity" in the next 18 months.

"After years of crises, it's now time to take Europe's future into our own hands," said Juncker.

"Today's robust economic growth encourages us to move ahead to ensure that our economic and monetary union is more united, efficient and democratic and that it works for all of our citizens."

Read more: Juncker: Those wanting a Brexit no deal have no friends in European Commission

Deepening ties within the eurozone would lead to more jobs, better growth and investment, the commission said.

The commission hailed the eurozone's return to prosperity, 10 years after the financial crisis – something it stressed did not start in within the Europe. Unemployment is at its lowest level since 2008 and economic sentiment at its highest level since 2000.

"There is no better time to fix the roof than when the sun is shining," said Juncker.

The plans come as the eurozone's biggest economy, Germany, is racked with political uncertainty. Chancellor Angela Merkel has yet to form a new coalition to govern for the next four years. German media has led much of the criticism of previously leaked plans.

EU leaders, except for the UK, are set to discuss the proposals at next week's summit in Brussels.

Read more: Juncker wants "more united Union" with single European President

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