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Crisis may create 'two-speed Europe'

(China Daily)

11:08, November 15, 2011

BRUSSELS / LONDON - A "two-speed" European Union may come sooner than expected, analysts said, as the worsening debt crisis requires deeper and stricter fiscal discipline in the eurozone.

The European Council is expected to submit a report on possible changes to the union treaty at December's EU summit, where the leaders are likely to approve a roadmap on how to implement the agreed measures.

Ratification among the member states will occur in 2012-2013, which will strengthen fiscal union and transfer decision-making powers from member states to Brussels.

"Clearly, there will be a two-speed Europe: One gear with greater integration in the eurozone and a more confederal gear in the European Union," French President Nicolas Sarkozy said in Strasbourg on Nov 9.

France recently held a Senate hearing on a motion on a two-speed union, which implies that the eurozone countries will in the future answer to a different set of rules than the wider EU.

"This is not an ideal solution, but a practical and pragmatic one," said David Fouquet, director of the Brussels-based Asia-Europe Network. Fouquet said this shows that European leaders have accepted the fact Europe is full of economic, cultural and traditional diversity.

To achieve common prosperity, Fouquet said EU members should abandon their "inward-looking" attitudes and transfer their decision-making power to European institutions such as European Council, Commission and Parliament.

"That is not the situation now because major decisions have been made by France and Germany," said Fouquet.

But European media reported that the acceptance of a two-speed Europe did not occur naturally for Germany.

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