Eurogroup head raps Sarkozy over economic government

18th November 2008, Comments 0 comments

Luxembourg Prime Minister is unhappy that Sarkozy is suggesting he has failed in leading the eurozone finance ministers

18 November 2008

STRASBOURG - The head of the Eurogroup of finance ministers, Luxembourg prime minister Jean-Claude Juncker, on Monday criticised French President Nicolas Sarkozy for proposing an 'economic government' for the eurozone.

Sarkozy recently proposed regular summits of heads of state and government in the 15-nation eurozone, following the first such meeting last month, which focussed on bank bailouts as the financial crisis deepened.

At the moment only eurozone finance ministers meet, each month, under the presidency of Juncker, who is also Luxembourg's finance minister.

Sarkozy feels that this forum does not have sufficient authority to take major decisions, even speaking of setting up an "economic government".

According to reports, the French leader himself would like to head up such a forum - a claim Sarkozy has denied.

Addressing the EU parliament in Strasbourg, Juncker said he was trying, "modestly to lead the work of he finance ministers, which Mr Sarkozy does not think is at a high-enough level.

"Personally I do not seek the presidency of the Eurogroup at finance minister level for pleasure or for personal glory.

"I do it out of duty. If others they could do the job better," then they should do so, he said.

"But they must apply the same intensity in the years ahead as they give the impression of wanting to apply at this moment in time," Juncker added.

The Luxembourg leader implicitly reproached France for calling for better coordinated economic policy in Europe while taking emergency measures itself without discussing them with its EU partners.

"I note the touching calls for economic policy coordination expressed particularly in the language of Voltaire," he said.

"I would like those who call for such coordination to first set an example."

However the Eurogroup chief said he did agree that Europe should take concerted action to tackle "a crisis of the size of that which faces us.

"A reaction of strong and coordinated economic policy at European level is necessary and we must consider the best way to organise (it)," he said.

[AFP / Expatica]

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