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Europe

The EU summit will 'speed up the debate'

EU leaders are meeting in Brussels on Thursday and Friday, with talks set to focus on ways to stabilize the economy. Former commissioner Antonio Vitorino thinks that few concrete decisions are likely to emerge.

DW: What are your hopes for the summit this time round?

Antonio Vitorino: I don’t expect decisions in October, but I do expect that the debate in October will pave the way for a definite decision on the Multiannual Financial Framework [the basis for the 2014-2020 EU budget] in November and finally the four building blocks of the European Economic and Monetary Union in December. So I think that we are on the right track, and I hope that this council will speed up the debate.

Herman Van Rompuy, president of the European Council, has set out the issues for discussion at the summit. What do you make of his paper?

If you want the pros and cons, I think that the priority given to the banking union is extremely important. And I still think that we have an incomplete view. The question of the banking union is not just a common supervisor, it also has to deal with the common insurance of deposits and a redress mechanism. And those two elements are there, but at a lower stage and I believe they should be beefed up. This is one of the problems.

Vitorino

Vitorino thinks the summit is needed to move things forward

One of the advantages I see in the Van Rompuy report is precisely the idea of an adjustment fund that would be based on a contractual relationship between member states and the European Union, bypassing the idea that everything that deals with adjustment is a dictate from Brussels to the capitals. It really needs to be a contract between the national member states and the European institutions.

A number of countries – including the UK and Sweden – have raised objections to the plans for a banking union, which would give large regulatory powers to the European Central Bank. What do you think of proposals for a banking union?

The top priority in the short-term is to have an agreement on the common supervisor and on the scope of the supervision, and on the rules that should be settled by the European Banking Agency, and then implemented by the European Central Bank as the supervisor, with separate functions to avoid conflicts of interest. That’s the priority. But I think we should make it clear that for the sustainability of the banking system, the two other elements are extremely important too – notably the deposit insurance guarantee and the redress mechanism.

Do you have any concerns about Britain and the role that it might play in these talks?

As a former Commissioner for Justice and Home Affairs I’ve always tried to develop as much as I could the acquis [legislation]. And I think it is in the interests of the European Union, but it is also in the interest of the UK to be closely associated with the Justice and Home Affairs acquis. Because the fight against cross-border crime, the problem with international migration, it is not solved with an isolationist approach from the UK:

Antonio Vitorino is a former European Commissioner and current President of Notre Europe, the think-tank founded by the influential French economist and politician, Jacques Delors.

Interview: Joanna Impey, Brussels

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