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Some suggest collective tax for Europe

Sept. 6, 2011 at 1:29 PM   |   Comments

BRUSSELS, Sept. 6 (UPI) -- Finance officials in Europe are beginning to suggest the road to economic recovery includes an even stronger central power in the Europe.

Jean-Claude Trichet, the president of the European Central Bank, said in a speech this week the economic crisis "clearly revealed the need for strong economic governance in a zone with a single currency," referring to the 17-member eurozone, which includes countries that share the euro as a common currency, The New York Times reported Tuesday.

The director of the International Monetary Fund's European division Antonio Borges said recently European nations "will have to press ahead with structural changes and deeper economic integration."

Essentially, the Times said, officials are calling for a governance that resembles the United States with a pan-European Treasury Department that can act far more quickly than Europe can on, for example, a bailout of Greece.

With the current process in Europe, the parliament of each eurozone member -- all 17 of them -- has to ratify the loan to Greece. That process can take months or even years.

If time is of the essence, such a ponderous system will fail, the report said. In the meantime, while each parliament debates the matter, uncertainly crowds out what confidence is left in stock markets, where losses have accelerated in recent weeks.

Politically, such a radical change would be a risky undertaking. Voters in prosperous countries are unlikely to approve of their tax dollars helping other countries, which have governments that make their own spending decisions.

Generally, taxation at least implies representation, but taxpayers in Germany do not have any government official representing them in Athens.

"If they had the equivalent of the U.S. Treasury, then this treasury could have formulated proposals with the collective objective in mind, said former IMF official Garry Schinasi.

"Instead, they fumbled around and took two baby steps forward and three backward," he said.

© 2011 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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