Coming from a southern European president of the Commission, this will go down well in Berlin…
"The Irish Times - Wednesday, May 26, 2010
Barroso criticises Merkel’s handling of euro-zone crisis
THE HEAD of the European Commission yesterday launched a strong attack on German chancellor Angela Merkel’s handling of the euro’s crisis of confidence.
José Manuel Barroso, the president of the European Commission, who is believed to be supported by a majority of the 27 member states, described Dr Merkel’s campaign to reopen the Lisbon Treaty as “naive”.
He said the bill of almost €900 billion for rescuing Greece and shoring up the euro would have been much cheaper had Berlin acted more swiftly, and accused the German government of failing to lead public opinion in defence of the single currency.
Mr Barroso’s public criticism, in an interview with Germany’s conservative newspaper the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung , signalled the high-level political friction in the EU over how to restore faith in the single currency.
Mr Barroso’s staff, as well as the governments of many other EU member states, think the mixture of hard line and prevarication shown by Dr Merkel since the crisis erupted in February have made a bad situation worse.
They say that swift action in February would have deterred the financial markets and contained the crisis to Greece and its sovereign debt.
Delay and ambivalence have instead triggered a full-blown single-currency crisis.
Dr Merkel is pushing for a tough new regime for the euro zone.
Last Friday, Berlin tabled a nine-point plan including swingeing penalties for euro countries that persist in flouting the rules.
Some of the new rules could mean reopening the Lisbon Treaty, which only came into force last November after eight years of fraught negotiations.
“We won’t be tabling any proposals for changing the treaty,” Mr Barroso said, describing the quest for Lisbon as “a traumatic experience”.
“It would be naive to think that you can reform the treaty only in the areas important to Germany,” he said.
British prime minister David Cameron has in the past promised a referendum in the UK over the Lisbon Treaty and would come under intense pressure to redeem that pledge if the treaty was up for renegotiation.
All of the key points proposed by Berlin were opposed by Mr Barroso in the article.
Contradicting Dr Merkel, he said it was not possible to expel chronic sinners from the euro zone, and that delinquents should not have to forfeit their EU votes for at least a year, as demanded by Berlin. He also made no mention of Germany’s call for debt-crippled countries to be allowed to go insolvent.
Senior commission officials said many EU countries shared their criticism of Germany.
They accused Dr Merkel of a “failure of political leadership” and of exploiting domestic political problems to justify inaction.
Germany’s economics minister, Rainer Brüderle, rejected the criticisms as “absurd”. – ( Guardian service"