VIENNA (Reuters) - Europe will press ahead with major economic policy decisions, including steps towards a banking union, despite the looming German election, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said on Thursday.
“I think that impression is not correct,” Barroso told reporters when asked whether big policy steps were on hold until after Germany’s national vote in September.
“We think it is important also for overall confidence in Europe that we do not slow down, that we do not relax in our efforts to complete the architecture of economic and monetary union. This has been the consistent message of the European Commission,” he said.
In Vienna to attend a meeting of conservative leaders, Barroso said he expected concrete decisions on measures to tackle youth unemployment and promote lending to small businesses at a European Council meeting next week.
“And I hope also progress will be achieved regarding the steps in the economic and monetary union. There was an agreement recently about the single supervisory mechanism,” he said, referring to letting the European Central Bank take on oversight on big banks in the euro zone from mid-2014.
He was speaking as euro zone finance ministers met to decide when and how their bailout fund can invest in a bank to save it from failure, a long-promised move that aims to break a downward spiral between bad banks and their indebted home countries.
“I expect there will be progress there - I really hope so. In fact the Commission is pushing for that to happen irrespective of the national election calendars,” he said.
Reporting by Michael Shields and Georgina Prodhan; Editing by Mark Heinrich