FRANKFURT — EU Commissioner Michel Barnier called Thursday for an EU-wide growth initiative to complement the recently agreed fiscal pact, so as to win the widespread support of Europe’s citizens.
Barnier, the EU’s commissioner for internal markets, told a conference hosted by the European Central Bank that while he did not want to call into question the fiscal compact agreed by governments last month only after tortuous negotiations, “if we want this agenda of governance and regulation to succeed, people need to understand and support it.
“That means it must be accompanied by a growth agenda, as well,” the commissioner said.
Barnier was speaking a day after ECB President Mario Draghi caused a stir by calling for a “growth compact” to accompany the eurozone’s fiscal compact as a growing number of eurozone countries are starting to baulk at belt-tightening measures being prescribed by governments in a bid to rein in deficits.
The commissioner said Brussels was not surprised by the current debate over the issue.
“It’s been several months now since we’ve tabled some 30 proposals to foster growth in Europe,” he said.
These medium-term measures included proposals “to improve the functioning of the interior market, facilitate investment, exports and innovation and also protect consumers,” Barnier said.
But he also hoped there would be short-term measures as well, such as encouraging the European Investment Bank to get more involved; the ECB helping banks to lend to companies; and so-called ‘project bonds’,” bonds issued at a European level to finance infrastructure projects in energy and transport. —AFP