Professor Otmar Issing, the chief architect of monetary union through its early years, said it would be “dangerous” to transfer control over tax and spending to the EU federal level before full political union has been established first on democratic foundations.
Such a quantum leap in the constitutional structure of Europe – effectively the creation of an EU superstate, with a parliament comparable in power to the US Congress – is unthinkable in the current political atmosphere.
It would require referenda across Europe, and a two-thirds majority in both houses of the German parliament. “The chances of political union are close to zero,” he said, speaking at the Ambrosetti forum of world policymakers on Lake Como.
If Europe were to jump the gun and force the pace of integration, this would lead to a rogue plenipotentiary with unbridled powers over sensitive issues of national life. “It is hard to see how it could be given democratic accountability,” he said.
Prof Issing, a towering figure in the pre-EMU Bundesbank and the European Central Bank’s first chief economist, said control of budgets must for now be left to national government and sovereign parliaments that are genuinely answerable to their own peoples. “Political union cannot be obtained in the European Union by the back door. It is a violation of the principle of no taxation without representation, and represents a wrong and dangerous approach,” he said.