January 13, 2012
Not everyone in the newly formed (and long awaited) Belgian government seems to be happy with the new supervisory powers the European Commission has gained under the “Six-Pack” on economic governance.
As we reported here, Belgium was forced to withhold €1.3 billion of planned spending in its 2012 budget, after the Commission said that Belgium’s estimates of its public deficit (2.8% of GDP at the end of this year) were “too optimistic.”
Well, this is what Belgian Enterprise Minister Paul Magnette had to say about that (from today’s interview with Flemish Belgian newspaper De Morgen),
“The Commission is today going too far with its measures. Who knows [EU Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner] Olli Rehn? Who has ever seen Olli Rehn’s face? Who knows where he comes from and what he has done? Nobody. Yet he tells us how we should conduct economic policy. Europe has no democratic legitimacy to do this.”
Incidentally, Magnette (see picture) is a fellow party member of Belgian Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo. Unsurprisingly, Di Rupo has promptly distanced himself from this statement. However, an important political message has been sent. Perhaps eurozone countries were not fully aware of the practical effects of the loss of sovereignty they were agreeing to when they rushed towards stricter economic governance – it wouldn’t be the first time.
In light of Monsieur Magnette’s reaction, we wonder what would happen if similar “recommendations” were made to France and/or Germany. You know things are changing when even Belgian Ministers resort to anti-Commission rhetoric…Open Europe blog team