The European Union must find the courage to reform and integrate further, Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel told a full house of European Parliament members on Wednesday.
Outlining her vision for a revamped Union, Merkel stressed the need to protect the euro, whereas EP political group leaders pressed her to be more ambitious, not least on the EU budget, and to focus less on austerity.
A minority of European Parliament members (MEPs) argued that the euro was too much of a straitjacket.
Merkel spent the afternoon meeting various MEPs, culminating in a two-hour discussion centered on the EU’s economic troubles and the upcoming negotiations on the shape of the bloc’s next long-term budget.
Merkel’s vision focused on strengthening economic policy coordination and more joint fiscal policy. She also called for a Eurozone budget with which to compensate countries for their reform efforts.
Political group leaders repeatedly pressed Merkel on the need for greater political decisiveness. The EPP emphasised the need for an EU budget capable of dynamizing the EU economy.
For their part, S&D, Greens and GUE party members called for a new anti-crisis plan less reliant on austerity. The liberals stressed the need to move rapidly towards a federal EU. The ECR and EFD, on the other hand, pushed for countries to be able to leave the Eurozone system.