With French Debt Nearing 100% Of GDP——Hollande Pleads For More Government, More Europe

As if there is not too much government and too many meetings already, Hollande Calls for the Creation of a Euro Zone Government.

French President Francois Hollande called on Sunday for the creation of a euro zone government and for citizens to renew their faith in the European project, which has been weakened by the Greek crisis.

Reviving an idea originally put forward by former European Commission chief Jacques Delors, Hollande proposed “a government of the euro zone (with) a specific budget as well as a parliament to ensure its democratic control“.

The French president said the 19 member states of the euro zone had chosen to join the monetary union because it was in their interests and no one had “taken the responsibility of getting out of it”.

“This choice calls for a strengthened organization, an advance guard of the countries who will decide on it,” he said.

The euro zone’s members are currently united in the informal body the Eurogroup, which comprises each country’s finance minister, presided over by Dutch Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem.

What threatens us is not an excess of Europe but its insufficiency,” Hollande wrote in an op-ed in the Journal du Dimanche weekly newspaper.

Counting “Insufficiencies”

  • European Commission: The European Commission (EC) is the executive body of the European Union responsible for proposing legislation, implementing decisions, upholding the EU treaties and managing the day-to-day business of the EU. The Commission operates as a cabinet government, with 28 members of the Commission (informally known as “commissioners”). One of the 28 is the Commission President (currently Jean-Claude Juncker) proposed by the European Council and elected by the European Parliament. The Council then appoints the other 27 members of the Commission in agreement with the nominated President, and the 28 members as a single body are then subject to a vote of approval by the European Parliament.[Jean-Claude Juncker is president of the European Commission and a member of the European People’s Party (EPP).
  • Eurogroup: The Eurogroup is the recognised collective term for informal meetings of the finance ministers of the eurozone, i.e. those member states of the European Union (EU) which have adopted the euro as their official currency. The group has 19 members. It exercises political control over the currency and related aspects of the EU’s monetary union such as the Stability and Growth Pact. Its current president is Dutch finance minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem. The ministers meet in camera a day before a meeting of the Economic and Financial Affairs Council (Ecofin) of the Council of the European Union. They communicate their decisions via press and document releases. This group is related to the Council of the European Union. The Eurogroup is also responsible for preparing the Euro Summit meetings and for their follow-up.
  • European Union: The European Union has 28 member states. It operates through a system of supranational institutions and intergovernmental-negotiated decisions by the member states. The institutions are: the European Commission, the Council of the European Union, the European Council, the Court of Justice of the European Union, the European Central Bank, the European Court of Auditors, and the European Parliament.
  • European Parliament: The European Parliament is the directly elected parliamentary institution of the European Union.
  • Euro Summit: The Euro Summit (not to be confused with the EU summit) is the meeting of the heads of state or government of the member states of the eurozone (those EU states which have adopted the euro). It is distinct from the EU summit held regularly by the European Council, the meeting of all EU leaders.
  • European Council: The European Council (not to be confused with the parliamentary council of Europe or the Council of the European Union) is the Institution of the European Union that comprises the heads of state or government of the member states, along with the council’s own president and the president of the Commission.
  • Council of the European Union:  The Council of the European Union (not to be confused with the European Council or the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe), is sometimes just called “the Council”. It is part of the essentially bicameral EU legislature (the other legislative body being the European Parliament) and represents the executive governments of the EU’s member states.
  • Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe: PACE is not to be confused with the  European Parliament or the Assembly of the Western European Union or the Council of the European Union or the European Council or the Council. The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) is one of the two statutory organs of the Council of Europe, an international organisation dedicated to upholding human rights, democracy and the rule of law, and which oversees the European Court of Human Rights. It is made up of 318 parliamentarians from the national parliaments of the Council of Europe’s 47 member states, and generally meets four times a year for week-long plenary sessions in Strasbourg.

Please study hard. I am having a pop-quiz sometime this week.

Growth of European Council Meetings

  • Meetings of the European Council, an institution of the European Union (EU) comprising heads of state or government of EU member states, started in 1975 as tri-annual meetings.
  • The number of meetings grew to minimum four per year between 1996 and 2007, and minimum six per year since 2008.
  • From 2008 to 2015, an average of seven council meetings per year took place.
  • Since 2008, an annual average of two special Euro summits were also organized in addition – and often in parallel – to the EU summits.

Apologies offered for not having the time to research the growth of meetings for any group other than the European Council.

Eurogroup History

The Eurogroup was created in 1997 by the European Council at the request of France.

The chair of the Eurogroup mirrors that of the rotating Council presidency, except where the Council presidency was held by a non-eurozone country, in which case the chair was held by the next eurozone country that would hold the Council presidency.

In 2004 the ministers decided to elect a president and in 2008, the group held a summit of heads of state and government, rather than finance ministers, for the first time. This became known as the Euro summit and has had irregular meetings during the financial crisis.

Curing Insufficiencies

To cure the “obvious” insufficiencies in the above groups, councils, agencies, and summits, Hollande wants to create a new eurozone government, no doubt with its own ministers, councils, groups, summits, assemblies, and parliaments.

Hey, Why Not?

If the goal is perpetual meetings with rotating heads and useless bickering 365 days a year, Hollande’s plan  may work.

The only open question is how to pay for it.

Does he plan another tax hike or does he simply want the ECB to print the money? If the latter, I believe we need another commission group to study the idea.

United States of Europe?

Joking aside, Hollande is clearly angling for a fiscal union to co-mingle debts, in effect, the creation of a United States of Europe, on his terms, not Merkel’s.

Mike “Mish” Shedlock