On today’s meeting of the Eurogroup, which will be the last one for retiring Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble, MEP Sven Giegold, financial and economic policy spokesperson of the Greens/EFA group, comments:
“Many countries in Europe breathe a sigh of relief as Schäuble leaves the Eurogroup. Not only Schäuble must go, but also his austerity policy. Although many countries have justifiably criticised Schäuble, the German Finance Minister has also achieved great things in international financial policy. Schäuble has contributed significantly to push for progress in the fight against tax evasion and tax avoidance. Thanks to Schäuble, the end of tax havens is in sight. However, alongside with the change of personnel in the German government, a change in the Euro crisis policy is necessary and possible: In Portugal, Schäuble’s dogma of austerity is currently being refuted. The recovery of the Portuguese economy shows that after the necessary structural reforms, the right way forward is to invest, not to save money. The country is recovering, not despite, but thanks to increases in pensions and lower incomes. Schäuble’s wrong approach is also evident in Spain. Only now, when the Spanish economy is booming, the IMF can again recommend cuts in public spending. Austerity during a crisis ultimately increases unemployment and poverty as well as debt. Structural reforms are part of the medicine, but one-sided austerity is poisonous for the revival of the economy.
There is also a need for personnel renewal of the chair of the Eurogroup. If Jeroen Dijsselbloem is to leave his position in January, the Eurogroup should take a new course both in terms of personnel and policy. Macron has put forward a good proposal for a reform of the euro area. The next German Finance Minister should stand by France and push for a European Finance Minister that is responsible to the European Parliament.”