EU首脳会議 金融不安の払拭にまだ力不足

fiscal sovereignty 財政主権

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Dec. 13, 2011)
Europe accord not enough to dispel financial concerns
EU首脳会議 金融不安の払拭にまだ力不足(12月11日付・読売社説)

European leaders barely managed to reach an agreement to prevent the Greece-triggered sovereign debt crisis from spreading to the rest of the world from Europe.

However, it does not seem powerful enough to dispel financial concerns.

Leaders of European Union countries, including the 17 nations that use the euro, such as Germany and France, agreed Friday to conclude a new treaty that will impose stringent fiscal discipline on its members.

The countries taking part in the new treaty will specify the principle of "fiscal balance" in their respective constitutions.

The principle is designed to automatically impose sanctions on countries whose fiscal deficit exceeds 3 percent of their gross domestic product in a single fiscal year.

The measure can be called a praiseworthy step forward, obliging individual countries to take steps to repair their finances based on lessons learned from the lax fiscal management of Greece and some other European countries.


One currency, many policies

The euro's fundamental weakness has lain in the fact that while eurozone countries have introduced the single currency, they have widely different fiscal policies.

If the European countries can sign the new treaty by March as scheduled under the leadership of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy, European unity will enter a new phase toward fiscal integration, which has been a long-standing issue.

However, British Prime Minister David Cameron, whose country is not a eurozone member, refused to join the new treaty, from the standpoint of protecting his country's fiscal sovereignty.

The divide between the French-German position and that of Britain can be said to have highlighted discord among EU member states.

More serious was the fact that the latest summit meeting failed to come up with bold measures to contain the raging crisis.

Leaders agreed at the meeting to launch the European Stability Mechanism in the middle of next year, one year ahead of the original schedule.
The bailout fund will provide fiscally distressed European countries with financial assistance and has been described as the European version of the International Monetary Fund.

The leaders also agreed on a bailout plan that would extend loans of up to 200 billion euros (about 21 trillion yen) to countries in fiscal crisis through the IMF.


IMF plan may not work

However, there are questions whether the IMF plan will be feasible given that the United States, the largest contributor to the international body, showed reluctance to make additional contributions.

The EU leaders also failed, because of Germany's objections, to agree on a common euro bond to be jointly issued by eurozone countries.

Above all, European countries have yet to secure enough funds to tackle the region's fiscal and financial crisis due to the slow progress of the plan to expand the European Financial Stability Facility, whose functions will eventually be taken over by the ESM.

For European countries to regain the rest of the world's confidence, it will be essential for them to act quickly to strengthen the EFSF.

It still remains uncertain how the global stock and exchange markets and credit rating companies will evaluate the conclusions agreed upon at the summit meeting.

Market players have high expectations that the European Central Bank will support Italy and other distressed eurozone countries through massive purchases of those nations' government bonds. Yet the ECB remains cautious about taking such steps.

Germany and France are taking the lead in Europe's precarious attempt to overcome the crisis. They bear a heavy responsibility in this regard.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Dec. 11, 2011)
(2011年12月11日01時10分 読売新聞)

by kiyoshimat | 2011-12-14 05:24 | 英字新聞

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