Mark Rutte, the Dutch prime minister, has said the EU should appoint a European commissioner for budgetary discipline with the power to make sure member states adhere to European budget-deficit rules. These powers would include being able to eject a country from the eurozone, according to his proposal.
Rutte, who made the proposal in a letter sent to the Dutch parliament yesterday, said the EU and the eurozone needed much tougher economic governance rules to make sure member states apply strict budget discipline.
Rutte said the Dutch cabinet agreed that the EU should create an “independent European budgetary authority” to oversee member-state fiscal policies. Such an authority should be headed by a commissioner who would have “the discretionary powers to make decisions and recommendations on sanctions”.
Rutte’s plans advocate a shift of decision-making responsibilities for budgetary oversight from member states to the European Commission.
The Dutch prime minister said the powers of such a commissioner should be at least comparable to the role played by the commissioners for competition or internal market.
The proposal sets out widespread powers that would allow the commissioner to not only vet and approve national budgets before they are presented to national parliaments, but also to impose hefty sanctions.
The commissioner should have power to force a member state to take measures to correct budgetary problems, including raising taxes, Rutte’s letter said.
The commissioner should also have the power to introduce sanctions against a member state that fails to abide by recommendations, including withholding payments in EU cohesion or structural funds, or suspending voting rights.
The ultimate sanction, Rutte said, should be to kick a member state out of the eurozone if all other measures fail.
The proposal follows calls from France and Germany for the EU to consider widening economic governance rules. Herman Van Rompuy, the European Council president, is expected to present ideas on deeper integration at the 17-18 October European Council meeting in Brussels.
Van Rompuy, who is on a tour of EU capitals to gather ideas on the issue, has already suggested that leaders of the 17 eurozone countries hold meetings on a regular basis as a way to improve the eurozone’s crisis management capabilities.
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