BERLIN (Reuters) - Euro zone states must do more at a European level and pass some of their responsibilities for budget setting and fiscal policy to European institutions to find a way out of the debt crisis, Germany’s Finance Minister was quoted on Saturday as saying.
Wolfgang Schaeuble told Germany weekly news magazine Focus that Italy would be able to overcome its problems, which stemmed from a confidence crisis on the markets.
“The actual economic data is not so bad. The problems just need to be tackled... These are also solvable by Italy itself. What Rome must overcome is nothing like the mountain Greece must climb,” he said in an interview published on Saturday
Although Europe now had a more stringent growth and stability pact which allows the chance to intervene much earlier, countries also had to do more at European Union level, he said.
“The pressure of the crisis is allowing things to happen which otherwise wouldn’t be possible... the bigger the crisis the greater the need for change.”
“The sense that this will bring us much further in the end helps me through the frustrating times.”
To better ensure euro zone members respect their commitments, existing European Union treaties should be modified to give European Commission officials the same kind of enforcement powers for budgetary matters that they already have in the realm of competition issues, he said in a separate interview with Le Monde.
“Why wouldn’t the membership of the commission in charge of putting the agreements into effect not have the same rights as the competition authority,” he asked the French paper. “Why does the right exist for violations of European laws to appeal to the Court of Justice of the European Union but not violations of the Stability Pact?”
Schaeuble also reiterated that France and Germany needed to keep pushing their proposal for a financial transactions tax even if there is reluctance on the part of some EU members.
“If we don’t find a solution for the 27 EU members, it must then be discussed on the level of the euro zone,” he said. “Those who want to be leaders must move forward. That’s the case with France and Germany.”
The tax proposal, formally made to the Group of 20 leading economies earlier this month by billionaire Bill Gates, failed to win the backing of the G20 although French President Nicolas Sarkozy has said he still plans to pursue the idea.
Reporting by Alexandra Hudson and Christian Plumb; editing by Patrick Graham