Germany dismisses Barroso 'naive' barb

26th May 2010, Comments 0 comments

The German government on Wednesday dismissed European Union criticism of its drive to beef up fiscal rules in the bloc, saying the EU governing treaties must be flexible to respond to crises.

Asked about remarks by European Commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso published Monday in which he called Berlin "naive" for pushing for custom-tailored changes to the EU rulebook, a government spokesman was defiant.

"When we debate about new, additional measures in Europe, we must, in our opinion, have treaty changes. We know how difficult that is," Christoph Steegmans told a regular government news conference.

"But if we, for example as Germans but also as Europeans, said now that over the next 20 or 30 years we will not change a single comma or full-stop in the European treaty system, then we would have a frozen system and we do not want that.

"The European Union must be able to respond to the challenges of the time."

Asked about changes Germany wants to see in the EU's Security and Growth Pact to punish fiscal sinners, Barroso told Germany's Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung that "we won't make any proposals for treaty amendments.

"It would be naive to believe that we can reform the treaty only in those areas which are important for the Germans. Of course Britain and others would then come with their wishes too," Barroso said.

German Economy Minister Rainer Bruederle said he was "perplexed" by the comments, adding it was "absurd to accuse Germany of not being conscious enough of Europe."

He pointed to German approval this month of a 110-billion-euro (135-billion-dollar) bail-out of stricken eurozone member Greece and its share of a 750-billion-euro rescue package in a bid to prop up the euro.

"We have just shown in the current crisis that we are ready to demonstrate political and financial solidarity," Bruederle said in a statement.

Germany has called for repeated violators of the EU's rules on public deficits to face sanctions including suspended voting rights or subsidies or, for countries using the euro, even expulsion from the eurozone.

© 2010 AFP

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