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Juncker calls for European finance minister

By AFP
media European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker delivers his State of the Union speech at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, on September 13, 2017 AFP

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker on Wednesday proposed that the EU create its own Europe-wide finance minister, a big step towards deeper integration of the eurozone.

The proposal matches a similar demand by French President Emmanuel Macron, who believes that the eurozone needs stronger institutions in order to avoid shocks such as the debt crisis or Brexit.

"We need a European Minister of Economy and Finance," Juncker said in his annual State of the Union speech to the European Parliament in Strasbourg.

"I am not calling for a new position just for the sake of it. I am calling for efficiency," Juncker said.

He said the job would combine the role of EU commissioner and the head of the Eurogroup of eurozone finance ministers, currently presided by Dutch finance minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem.

Juncker added that he was "not fond of the idea of having a separate euro area parliament", another idea promoted by Macron.

He also insisted that the fight to ensure that multinationals pay a fair tax be strengthened, notably by making it easier to approve tax reforms.

On tax, "Europe has to be able to act quicker and more decisively," he said.

This would require that EU tax policy be approved by a majority of member states and not the existing requirement of unanimity among the EU's 28 member states, he said.

Juncker said that he would also propose that the eurozone's bailout fund, the European Stability Mechanism, become a full fledged European Monetary Fund.

This would be based on the model of the International Monetary Fund, the US-dominated crisis bank that took a major role in the eurozone debt crisis.

 
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