Separate eurozone treaty 'last resort': Westerwelle

18th November 2011, Comments 0 comments

Any European treaty changes restricted to the 17-member eurozone bloc will only arise as a last resort, German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said in an interview published in Friday's Financial Times.

Speaking before a potentially frosty meeting between German Chancellor Angela Merkel and British Prime Minister David Cameron, Westerwelle sought to play down fears of the emergence of a two-tier Europe as he revealed his three-point plan for recovery.

Westerwelle told the British-based publication that a separate eurozone treaty would be "a last resort" and that the European Union would remain exposed to economic catastrophe unless it enacted closer integration.

"Treaty change will require considerable political will," he explained. "But if we fail to muster the courage to do this now, Europe will remain permanently vulnerable to crisis."

A negotiating note prepared by Germany's foreign ministry and seen by the Daily Telegraph newspaper appeared to contradict the foreign minister and suggested that Germany would try to prevent a possible British referendum on any future treaty changes.

"Limiting the effect of the treaty changes to the eurozone states would make ratification easier, which would nevertheless be required by all EU member states (thereby less referenda could be necessary, which could also affect the UK)," read the leaked document.

Britain, which is a member of the European Union but not of the eurozone, is opposed to deeper political integration within the eurozone bloc, fearing it will lose influence in the continent.

Germany's foreign minister added there was "no time to lose" in imposing tighter economic governance and tougher rules on the region's stability pact, which stipulates limits for public debts and deficits.

The politician stressed that recovery depended on Greece immediately implementing reforms and on a joined-up strategy for competitiveness and growth within the zone.

He also called for the bloc to deepen its "monetary union to a stability union."

Germany has been under fire over its refusal to allow the European Central Bank to create new money in order to stimulate growth.

Westerwelle ruled out a softening in Germany's stance, arguing that any short-term benefits would be swamped in the long run by the "dire consequences" of inflation.

The six-page leaked document seen by the Telegraph also revealed proposals for the creation of a European Monetary Fund which could step in to take over ailing national economies in times of crisis.

The document, entitled "the future of the EU", predicted that imminent treaty changes would ultimately lead to the EU developing into a political union, Friday's Telegraph reported.

"The debate on the way towards a political union must begin as soon as the course toward stability union is charted," the report advised.

The sizeable eurosceptic wing within Cameron's centre-right Conservative party is pressurising the prime minister over a possible referendum and what he would do if the eurozone draws up its own policies.

In that event, Cameron has vowed to push for a repatriation of powers from Brussels.

© 2011 AFP

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