EU president presses ahead on reforms
(BRUSSELS) - EU President Herman Van Rompuy said Thursday he wanted to begin consultations next week on reforms to the bloc, including a centralised budget and shared debt, two hugely controversial issues.
Van Rompuy, in an 'Issues Paper on Completing the Economic and Monetary Union,' said the aim was to have the power to deal with problems in member states and "to prevent contagion, possibly through a central budget for the euro area.
"This in turn, could involve limited common debt issuance," he said, raising a proposal opposed notably by Germany, Europe's paymaster, which rejects any idea that weaker eurozone states should be able to borrow on the back of stronger ones.
Van Rompuy said the paper built on a breakthrough June 28-29 EU summit which agreed a series of moves on tighter EU economic and political integration to better tackle the eurozone debt crisis.
The summit called on the president to develop proposals by October covering reforms in four areas -- the financial system, budget, economic policy and boosting democratic accountability.
On steps to increase democratic accountability, an area of some very sharp criticism of Brussels, Van Rompuy said it was essential to "build public support for European-wide decisions that have a far reaching impact on the everyday lives of citizens.
"Citizens should not only be able to enjoy the benefits in terms of more stability and prosperity but also feel that their concerns are recognised and their voices heard," he said.
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