EU says ‘decision time’ for stalled eurozone reforms

Germany has proved strongly reluctant to follow through on French President Emmanuel Macron's (left) ideas for eurozone reformers, despite Chancellor Angela Merkel's (right) commitment to submitting a joint proposal with France ahead of the June 28 summit
AFP

Sofia (AFP) – A top EU official on Friday urged member states to paper over differences and commit to eurozone reforms that have been stalled amid deep splits between France and Germany.

Under the impetus of French President Emmanuel Macron, EU leaders have pledged to table a set of reforms at a summit in June that the 40-year-old leader says are necessary to reboot Europe after setbacks of Brexit.

Germany however has proved strongly reluctant to follow through on Macron’s ideas, even though Chancellor Angela Merkel has committed to submitting a joint proposal with France ahead of the June 28 summit in Brussels.

“The truth is, we are starting to run out of time,” European Commission Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis told a news conference in the Bulgarian capital of Sofia.

“We need to move beyond established positions now and find compromises, so it is time to decide,” the former Latvian prime minister said after talks with EU finance ministers.

Eurozone ministers have for months discussed the proposals, but discussions have gone nowhere with richer member states resistant to move forward.

Macron’s grand ambitions for the single currency bloc have already been significantly watered down, with ideas for the creation of a eurozone finance minister or joint borrowing by member states dropped.

Instead officials are mainly focused on deepening the bloc’s banking union, with hopes to formally launch a European-wide deposit-insurance scheme that would be implemented over the long-term.

But even this has faced resistance in Germany, as well as other northern countries, amid fears of their state coffers being raided to save banks from neighbours like Italy or Greece.

Ahead of the summit, negotiators are also trying to draw up a plan for an EU rainy day fund as well as aid to help countries adopt economic reforms.

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