THE European Commission yesterday unveiled plans for a fundamental overhaul of how the Eurozone is structured, including the prospect of setting up a common budget for the single currency area and issuing joint debt in the years ahead.
In a five-page document dubbed a ‘blueprint’ for creating a “deep and genuine” economic and monetary union, Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso acknowledged that the 17 countries in the Eurozone needed to be allowed to integrate more deeply and at a faster rate than the rest of the 27-country bloc.
Barroso set out his proposals in three timeframes: those that can be tackled in the next six to 18 months; those that will take 18 months to five years; and those that will only be achieved from 2018 on, in the final stage of monetary union.
Barroso’s more radical ideas include the joint issuance of bonds by Eurozone countries, a process that would effectively involve the 17 member states underwriting one another’s obligations.
Barroso was asked why he was putting forward his own ideas for overhauling economic and monetary union when he was already supposed to be working with Van Rompuy and others on a nearly identical set of proposals.
He dismissed the suggestion that he was launching a competing vision, saying that under the EU’s treaties, it is the European Commission that has the power to initiate legislation and it was merely fulfilling that mandate.