European Union: National budgets under Brussels supervision

13 March 2013 – Presseurop Le Temps, Le Figaro

On March 12, the European parliament voted to approve “a restrictive directive that will oblige eurozone member states to present their planned budgets in Brussels, even before they are presented to national parliaments,” explains Le Temps.

Set to come into force in the autumn of this year, the bill, dubbed the two-pack, has been designed to reinforce the six-pack programme of reforms adopted at the end of 2011, and amounts to a further step towards effective economic and monetary governance of the EU.

The terms of the directive should prevent any further budgetary mismanagement that could lead to another debt crisis, points out the Geneva daily. The newspaper continues —

Reading between the lines, the idea is to place states with unbalanced public finances under administrative supervision so that they do not endanger the eurozone as a whole. [...] [Sanctions will be levelled] against recalcitrant states which do not take into account the Commission’s recommendations. All of this is based on the principle that budgetary mismanagement in Greece, Ireland, Portugal and Spain was the cause of the current crisis which plunged the wider eurozone area into recession.

In Paris, Le Figaro describes the directive as “the keystone of the European edifice.” With regard to France the daily points out, that “at the end of the day, the National Assembly will still vote on and assume entire responsibility for the budget. So strictly speaking, there has been no transfer of nationial sovereignty to the European level.” However, the newspaper also notes that —

in a context of controversy over austerity and growth, direct interference from Brussels, in advance of sovereign votes in national parliaments, could cause problems. “In the autumn, French MPs will see Europe enter into a budgetary debate, which they consider to be the most important of their few remaining prerogatives,” explains a source in the EU. “We will have to be very tactful…”