VIENNA Feb 16 The European Commission's top
financial official called on Thursday for deeper integration in
the euro zone, dismissing fears that a move in that direction
would split the European Union as it reels from Britain walking
"Some argue that deepening the euro area might be divisive
as not all 27 member states are members of the euro. I believe
this would be a deep mistake," Pierre Moscovici, a French
socialist and European commissioner for economic and financial
affairs, said in a speech in Vienna.
Though they disagree on details, Germany, France and many of
the 17 other states that use the euro currency are keen to bind
the euro zone closer together after years of crisis in which
investors have doubted the currency's survival.
But some countries around the periphery of the bloc fear
creating a system in which a hard core of states pushes the
European Union as a whole into policies they do not want.
By voting to leave, Britain, the largest EU economy not in
the euro zone, has taken away some clout from those countries.
Moscovici said he supported setting up new institutions
specifically for the euro zone, including a budget separate from
that of the European Union. It should also have its own finance
minister, who would also be a commissioner, he said.
"I'm in favour of a treasury for the euro zone. I'm in
favour of a budget or a fiscal capacity of the euro zone of a
limited amount capable of helping us to invest on the one hand
and also fight unemployment," he told reporters before his
speech, adding that the main threat to growth was a lack of
While Moscovici said the planned banking union needed to be
completed to ensure financial stability, he also underlined the
importance of keeping voters onside, an apparent reference to
rising populism and Britain's vote to leave the European Union.
"Nothing will be possible if the architecture of the euro
area remains a discussion between central bankers (I fully
respect them) officials, finance ministers (I also respect them,
I used to be one of them) and commissioners (I am one of them)
in closed forums," he told a meeting at Austria's central bank.
"We must reinforce democratic accountability and legitimacy
in the governance of the euro area, to ensure the necessary
support of the population," he added.
Moscovici also appeared to see a silver lining in the Brexit
vote, arguing that it meant the group of EU member states not in
the euro zone would be smaller.
"With the exit of the UK from the EU, most remaining
non-euro area Member States can be expected to enter the euro
sooner or later," he said.