Labour MEPs tell Juncker: As eurozone integrates further, non-euro members must continue to be heard

As the eurozone embarks on further integration, the voices of non-euro members must continue to be heard, Labour MEPs have warned.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker unveiled the Commission’s proposals for completing Europe’s economic and monetary union to MEPs today. He stressed the euro was a “political project” requiring “political supervision and democratic accountability”, and that “the legitimacy of the euro is paramount, at least as important as its economic significance and its stability on the financial markets”.

The EU “will need to develop and strengthen the common institutions that a single currency demands”, he added, but failed to mention the UK governments reform proposals on governance and competitiveness, as well as safeguards for all non-euro members.

Neena Gill MEP, member of the European Parliament economic and monetary affairs committee, told Mr Juncker:

“Yes, labour markets need reform, but reform in the right direction. It needs to be easier to hire people, not to fire. The priority has to be to reduce the 25 million unemployed people in the EU, not to increase this number. Moreover people need proper contracts and social protection, and not zero-hour contracts.

“But what is the problem with these recommendations? They address the euro area, but as a union, the EU is highly interdepended – we are 28 Members in this club and we are all interlinked. Therefore, it is in all our interests to have a well performing euro area. Deficits, excessive debt and imbalances all need to be properly tackled in a socially acceptable way.

“Representing the UK, our ties are close. Forty per cent of our exports go to the euro area, and major UK-owned banks have financial exposures to the euro area totalling almost twice their capital, worth a quarter of UK GDP.”

Labour MEPs believe President Juncker must clarify his position on David Cameron’s EU reform demands on economic governance and increased competitiveness, at the European Council summit on Thursday and Friday.

Neena Gill MEP added:

“As a pro-European and fighting to stay in the EU, I find it painful the divisions that are building up between the EU ins and outs. How do we change the mindset of those who want to cement this artificial separation between the in and out?”

Anneliese Dodds MEP, member of the European Parliament economic and monetary affairs committee, said:

“It is vital for the countries of the eurozone that they complete the process of economic and monetary union quickly and effectively. And not just for those countries, but for the UK too – because what happens in the eurozone has a huge impact on us. The eurozone countries are our trading partners, our allies and our fellow Europeans.

“It is of the utmost importance that the next steps towards completing economic and monetary union are fair and balanced: there must be a focus on investment as well as structural reform; there must be a focus on stimulating demand and reducing unemployment; and there must be a focus on returning growth and jobs to all the countries within the eurozone.

“That is the best course of action for the eurozone governments and their citizens, and for the people of the UK, because a stable, flourishing eurozone within the single market is good news for all of us.”