Euro Group - Economic Government

Economic Government

Further information: Eurozone#Bailout provisions

In 2008, in light of the 2008 financial crisis, French President Nicolas Sarkozy (speaking at the European Parliament as the outgoing President of the European Council) called the Eurogroup to be replaced by a "clearly identified economic government" for the eurozone, stating it was not possible for the eurozone to go on without it. The eurozone economic government would discuss issues with the European Central Bank, which would remain independent.

This government would come in the form of a regular meeting of the eurozone heads of state and government (similar to the European Council) rather than simply the finance ministers which happens with the current Eurogroup. Sarkozy stated that "only heads of state and government have the necessary democratic legitimacy" for the role. This idea was based on the meeting of eurozone leaders in 2008 who met to agree a co-ordinated eurozone response to the banking crisis.

This is in contrast to an early proposal from former Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt who saw the European Commission taking a leading role in a new economic government, something that would be opposed by the less integrationist states. Sarkozy's proposal was opposed by Eurogroup chair Jean-Claude Juncker who did not think Europe was ripe for such a large step at the time and opposition from Germany killed off the proposal. Merkel approved of the idea of an economic government, but for the whole of the EU, not just the eurozone as doing so could split the EU and relegate non-eurozone states to second class members.

In his 2011 State of the Union address, Commission President José Manuel Barroso opposed the Franco-German intergovernmental plan, stating that community institutions should perform that role.

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