France favors a “stronger organization” behind the Euro led by “a vanguard of countries”, French President Francois Hollande said in an interview published Sunday. In the past week “the European spirit prevailed” in addressing the Greek crisis, he told the weekly Journal du Dimanche.
“But we cannot stand still,” Hollande said, in the interview published alongside a profile of Jacques Delors, the former head of the European Commission. Delors, a former French economics and finance minister who turns 90 on Monday, is one of the architects of the Euro.
“I have proposed taking up Jacques Delors' idea about Euro government, with the addition of a specific budget and a parliament to ensure democratic control,” Hollande said.
His remarks touched on what analysts have seen as a major flaw in the Euro. Under the 1992 Treaty of Maastricht, countries which share a common currency must obey rules on borrowing and deficit spending.
But the Greek crisis saw one of the 19 Euro zone members notch up successive worsening deficits and amass a mountain of debt. The problems were only addressed by bailouts from the European institutions and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
Critics say the problem stems from a lack of centralized control over national fiscal policies, which today are jealously guarded areas of sovereignty.
In 2011 Delors said the crisis facing the Euro required member states either to accept greater economic cooperation or a transfer of more national powers to the European Union's centre.
Hollande did not spell out his proposals in the interview but said it was time to overhaul the Euro's governance. ”Sharing a currency is far more than wanting (economic) convergence,“ he said.
”It's a choice that 19 countries have made because it was in their interest. No government, by the way, has taken the responsibility of leaving“ the Euro since its creation, he said.
”This choice calls for strengthened organization and, among the countries which will decide it, a vanguard,“ said Hollande. ”France is willing to take part because, as Jacques Delors showed, the country becomes greater when it takes the initiative in Europe.”