EU summit to tackle debt control

Oct. 28, 2010 at 1:19 PM
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BRUSSELS, Oct. 28 (UPI) -- France and Germany at teamed up an EU summit in Brussels to call for punishing debt-laden member states in a bid to improve the bloc's fiscal stability.

The German-French plan foresees a comprehensive set of sanctions for repeat overspenders so that a Greek-style crisis, which seriously destabilized the euro, can never happen again.

Hammered out this month by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy, the plan would involve stripping overspenders of EU voting rights and allow for a default of highly indebted countries.

The Franco-German initiative has sparked significant protest at the two-day summit in Brussels, with several EU member states speaking against it, mainly because it would require amending the Lisbon Treaty, the EU Constitution.

While most EU members agree that something has to be done to prepare for future debt crises, tinkering with the Lisbon Treaty is a dreadful prospect because it would launch several national referenda.

EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding called talks of changing the EU Constitution irresponsible.

"The two of them," meaning Germany and France, "must realize that it took us 10 years to close the deal on the Lisbon Treaty," she told German daily Die Welt.

Voters in France, the Netherlands and Ireland with their "No" to Lisbon recent years sparked a crisis of confidence within the European Union few want to see repeated. Neither does Brussels want the body's recent debt crisis back, when Greece was near default after the worldwide recession had hit Europe hard.

Only a $150 billion fast-track emergency loan for Greece and a $600 billion eurozone stability fund managed to ease fiscal concerns. Germany was the biggest contributor to both savings packages -- it makes sense that Berlin is now calling loudly for measures to prevent or at least contain further crises.

While the economy is showing signs of a recovery, almost all 27 member states have gone beyond EU limits on deficits and public debt of 3 percent and 60 percent of gross domestic product, respectively.

In light of all the pressure to cut national spending, it seems outrageous that the European Commission and the European Parliament want to boost the 2011 EU budget by 5.9 percent -- the second issue likely to be discussed in Brussels.

Britain has vowed to fights such an increase, and it's expected that several nations will join London in calling for greater austerity in Brussels.

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