Barroso: We need a stronger union in economic policy

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The Independent Online

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso today vowed to press on with stronger economic policy co-operation after today's "unprecedented" agreement to stabilise the single currency.

He was speaking in Brussels hours after a massive 500 billion euro (£433 billion) support package from EU governments sent stock global stock markets soaring.

Mr Barroso said he had been making the case for "reinforced economic governance" for a long time and the overnight deal to shore up the euro and stop its slide on world markets was just the latest proof of the need for closer economic ties.

He went on: "We need a stronger Union in economic policy, a stronger compliance by member states with policies and rules agreed at Union level."

The Commission president said such a strategy was now under way, emphasising: "We will undertake every effort to take it further".

The Commission is due to unveil proposals on Wednesday, urging EU governments to sign up to a centrally-co-ordinated set of economic policies, with closer surveillance of "macroeconomic imbalances" in the EU, more transparent regulation of financial markets and a "permanent crisis mechanism" for dealing with future long term economic crises.

Mr Barroso, addressing a meeting of the World Economic Forum for Europe, said: "The lesson from this crisis is that if you want a monetary union, you should also promote an economic union.

"This does not mean making every member state do exactly the same at the same time, but it certainly means reinforced economic governance."

He said the overnight accord was unprecedented in scale, and showed the determination of the whole of the EU to support any of its member state neighbours when they were "seriously threatened with severe difficulties caused by exceptional circumstances beyond their control".

It was now time to build on such help by agreeing "further efforts of (economic) consolidation".