Open Europe Blog

More news on the eurozone front this weekend as we learned that France and Germany are preparing plans for an IMF-style European Monetary Fund (EMF). German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble has said he will “present proposals soon” for a new eurozone institution that has “comparable powers of intervention” to the International Monetary Fund.

Schäuble has today received backing from his Chancellor, Angela Merkel, who said, the EU’s current tools “are not sufficient.” She added, “The European Union must be able to respond to the challenges of the moment” and if establishing an EMF required revising the EU treaties it would be a price worth paying becasue “we’re saying we want to solve our problems ourselves.”

However, it seems that the German government may meet strong resistance from the German political and economic establishment. Juergen Stark, a German Executive Board Member at the European Central Bank, has chosen to write in tomorrow’s edition of Handelsblatt that “Such a mechanism would not be compatible with the principles of the monetary union”. He has also warned that “public acceptance of the euro and the European Union would be undermined.”

Stark’s column argues that establishing an EMF would risk over-politicisation and further increase the eurozone’s susceptibility to ‘moral hazard’ or free-riding from certain member states. “Countries which have not abided by the rules, which profit unilaterally from the euro, without taking their duties seriously, should not be rewarded,” he writes.

Given Merkel’s obvious unwillingness to sign up to any Greek bailout, such public support for the EMF proposal is a little surprising. Given that Germany would be the biggest contributor to such a fund, surely it amounts to a very similar thing: a German guarantee for the eurozone.

Certainly one to watch…

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