The euro finance ministers have pushed forward the debate on a common eurozone budget.
There was broad agreement that the budget should be used primarily for investment and structural reforms, eurogroup head mario centeno said on monday evening after the meeting of the heads of department of the common currency area. However, a number of issues still had to be discussed by june.
The EU commission had put forward a number of proposals to strengthen the euro zone, the latest of which was an agreement between germany and france on a common approach to the budget. This is mainly to demand reforms in euro states. Funds from the budget could also be used as guarantees for private investment projects.
In december, the EU heads of state and government had generally agreed on a common pot of money for the euro states within the EU budget. States wishing to join the euro in the foreseeable future could also participate. The budget is intended, among other things, to even out economic imbalances between the individual states, he said. In addition, competitiveness is to be strengthened. The aim was also to better prepare europe for future financial crises.
In addition to the intended use, however, some details of the budget were still open, such as how much money should be available. This question should be discussed in may, said centeno.
France’s president emmanuel macron had originally called for large sums of billions of euros for a separate eurozone budget outside the eu budget. For him it was an important point to promote european unification. However, there was and still is skepticism in other countries – including germany. The idea of using the budget to stabilize the eurozone – in crisis situations, for example – is also not part of the mandate, centeno said. Some countries – such as spain, france and slovakia – had ideas on how to do this.
In the debate over payments to the heavily indebted greece, euro finance ministers have not yet released fresh money. The EU commission had long since noted that promised reforms in greece after the end of the credit program were proceeding slowly. Interest rate reductions for athens in the coming years are linked to the implementation of all the requirements.
In august, greece ended years of credit programs that had kept the country afloat since 2010. 3 of the 16 agreed conditions have not yet been fulfilled, the eurogroup was told. But there was no cause for concern, the payment – around one billion euros – should be processed by april, said EU economic commissioner pierre moscovici.