Barroso: Commission consensus on need for more EU integration13/06/2012 - 11:56:42
Further integration between EU states is required to deal with the economic crisis in Europe, Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso told the European Parliament in Strasbourg today.
"We are now in a defining moment for European integration and the EU," he said.
"We are seeing that, even when governments are taking the right steps towards reform, they can be negatively impacted by events beyond their control, or by the lack of decisive and comprehensive long-term response.
"We need to articulate the vision of where we need to go, and a very concrete path for how to get there. I am not sure whether the urgency of this is fully understood in all the capitals."
He said a discussion on the "building blocks" of future economic and monetary union would be at the core of the summit.
"The main building blocks include moving towards a banking union and a fiscal union.
"Some elements will require a higher degree of political integration… The Commission believes that it is essential to pursue this process as far as possible with all member states.
"We advocate further integration within the euro area. It is now evident that this is indispensable for the sustainability of our common currency and we are happy to see that also outside the euro area, in Europe and outside of Europe, now there is a consensus that we need further integration in the euro area."
But Mr Barroso said this could "under no circumstances" be seen as an alternative to "the integrity of the European Union as a whole".
He added: "It must be seen as a mutually reinforcing process. Our economic relations bind us all: euro area members and non-members alike, our futures are linked."
Mr Barroso continued: "There is only one Union. There is only one (European) Parliament. There is only one European Commission. This is so because fragmentation is not an option."
He said the "opt-outs" of some countries from involvement had to be recognised and "taken into appropriate account in the future architecture".
But that could be done "without creating a risk for the integrity of the European Union".
Liberal leader in the European Parliament and former Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt said fiscal union and political union was needed inside the eurozone to solve its problems.
He noted: "That was said by David Cameron, the best European federalist - outside the eurozone, naturally."
Mr Verhofstadt added: "We shall only overcome if we finally have the courage to work for a federal Europe: federal Europe is not real buzzword, it's a solution."
But UKIP leader Nigel Farage said that "by any criteria" the eurozone had failed and there was now a looming disaster, with even cash-strapped Italy tied into helping pay for the Spanish bail-out - driving Italy further into trouble.
He said the "elephant in the room" was that, when Greece left the eurozone, the European Central Bank would be "bust" through its exposure to the bail-out countries:
"To deal with that you need to call on Italy, Ireland, Greece, and Portugal - you couldn't make it up. The Titanic has hit rock and there are simply not enough lifeboats."
But EU Budget Commissioner Janusz Lewandowski told MEPs in his summing up: "The EU does not deserve the metaphor of the Titanic."