Germany Seeks Stricter Budget Monitoring Berlin Wants Panels to Check EU Fiscal Discipline

The German government has long argued that strict fiscal discipline is the only way out of the euro crisis. Now, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble has come up with a new idea for keeping countries on the path of virtue. He wants independent panels of academics to keep a close eye on states' budgets.

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble (seen here at last week's summit in Copenhagen) wants to establish independent panels to monitor countries' budgets.
AFP

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble (seen here at last week's summit in Copenhagen) wants to establish independent panels to monitor countries' budgets.


German Chancellor Angela Merkel and her finance minister, Wolfgang Schäuble, were able to get their pet project of a European fiscal pact accepted by most of the European Union's member states. Now Schäuble has come up with a new idea for improving the monitoring and coordination of fiscal policy within the EU in order to promote long-term budgetary discipline.

According to an internal Finance Ministry document obtained by SPIEGEL, Schäuble plans to propose creating independent panels of experts at both the national and EU level, who would monitor fiscal policies in the member states, the euro zone and the EU as a whole. They would be responsible for sounding a warning if they see governments' budgetary policies straying off course.

The panels, which would be composed mainly of academics, would also be charged with checking "the compatibility of national fiscal policies with European and national requirements" as well as the "implementation of national and European regulations," according to the Finance Ministry document. Those regulations would include the tougher EU stability pact, which was adopted at a summit in March 2011, as well as the new fiscal pact, which 25 EU countries have agreed to introduce.

In addition, Schäuble's ministry is also proposing that the role of the EU's economic and finance affairs commissioner, a position currently held by Finland's Olli Rehn, be strengthened in the future. According to the ministry document, the commissioner should be able to implement EU regulations "without the other commissioners or the Commission president having the right to object."

Improving member states' budgetary discipline has been a recurring theme in Chancellor Merkel and Finance Minister Schäuble's efforts to fight the European debt crisis. Berlin put pressure on other countries to sign up to the fiscal pact, which will introduce tougher rules for budget offenders. The pact will oblige countries to incorporate a German-style "debt brake," which forces governments to more or less balance their budgets, into their national constitutions. The treaty now has to be approved by national parliaments, with Germany's Bundestag expected to vote on the issue in May.

dgs/SPIEGEL

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tnt_ynot 04/02/2012
1. A Farce
The Euro rescue is a testament to fauilure done in the slow lane of a never ending story. Over two years of mistakes and false projections. The new fiscal pact and proposal to secure obedience to it are a farce. The real solution is to act correctly and honestly as described at: http://euro-meltdown.blogspot.com/ But I'm afraid that is wishful thinking. Anthony
erikSF99 04/03/2012
2. Schäuble wants Economic Dictatorship throughout Europe
Schäuble is apparently just not happy that he's help put in economic dictatorships in Italy and Greece. ONWARD to all of Europe. Get rid of democratically elected governments! Put in place as dictatorial heads of government the very banks that caused the crisis and keep it going with their criminal rating agencies and endless money created out of thin air by Credit-Default-Swaps, the ECB and, endless well of 'money': loans from the U.S. Federal Reserve (private banking cartel). How come Schäuble isn't arrested for what he is proposing? He's proposing nothing less than another step toward overthrowing democratically-elected governments. His comments would be considered free speech, except that since he has the power to help implement these dictatorships and is using that power, then his acts are criminal.
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