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Business

German finance minister pushes for EU treaty change

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble sees a window of opportunity to push through a deep reform of EU institutions. He thinks Europe's crisis-fighting efforts have created momentum for changing the EU treaty.

Wolfgang Schäuble wants to establish what he has called a "currency commissioner" for the eurozone, equipped with wide-ranging powers over the national budgets of the bloc's 17 member states.

Speaking to reporters on his way back from a tour of Asian countries on Tuesday, the German finance minister said the new commissioner should be granted rights similar to those of the EU's Competition Commissioner.

"The Commissioner for Competition is globally respected and feared," Schäuble said, adding that bigger steps toward a fiscal union within the eurozone must now be made to end the debt crisis.

Part of Schäuble's proposal also includes a reform of the European Parliament. In what he described as "flexible voting rights," European lawmakers should only be allowed to vote on issues which affect their own respective countries.

Seeing "momentum" for change, the German finance minister said he was already planning to float his proposals  at the upcoming EU summit this week. Under ideal circumstances, he added, the EU's 27-nation convention could be convened as early as December to work out changes to the EU treaty.

Asked by reporters whether his proposals were supported by Chancellor Angela Merkel, Schäuble admitted that she was "somewhat more cautious" about them.

uhe/kms (Reuters, dpa)