The European Commission President has called for more economic integration to tackle the euro zone crisis.
In his annual State of the Union address in Strasbourg, José Manuel Barroso vowed that Greece would remain in the euro but had to implement its commitments.
Amid much criticism of his leadership and doubts over the EU’s ability to control events, he said the “inter-governmental approach” had not worked; what was needed, he said, was a stronger centralised European Union, under the “independent authority” of the Commission.
“For the euro area to be credible – and this is not only the message of the federalists, this is the message of the markets – we need a truly community approach. We need to really integrate the euro area, we need to complete the monetary union with a real economic union,” he said.
Barroso outlined steps to boost the European bailout fund to make intervention more effective, and urged the European Central Bank to do whatever was necessary to ensure stability in the euro zone.
On the question of financial sector regulation, he said more about a planned EU-wide financial transaction tax.
“In the last three years, member states – I should say, taxpayers – have granted aid and provided guarantees of 4.6 trillion euros to the financial sector. It is time for the financial sector to make a contribution back to society. That’s why I’m very proud to say that today the Commission adopted a proposal for the ‘Financial Transaction Tax’, that if implemented, may generate a revenue of about 55 billion euros per year.”
The over-riding pre-occupation remains the debt crisis. Amid talk of a possible break-up of the euro zone and even the EU, the Commission President admitted the Union was facing the greatest challenge in its history.
Barroso urges economic union in face of euro crisis