FRANKFURT (Reuters) - A European finance minister with sway over member states’ taxes and budgets is needed to lead the euro zone out of its debt crisis, says the Chief Executive of Germany’s second-largest lender, Commerzbank.
“We need a real European finance minister, who is endowed with the appropriate powers,” CEO Martin Blessing said in an op-ed to be published in Sunday paper Welt am Sonntag, which was in parts made available to the media on Saturday.
“With the introduction of a fiscal union, Brussels should have the right to take budgetary powers from countries that do not stick to the rules. It should have the right to levy its own taxes and to set up a common debt agency to issue bonds,” said Blessing, whose bank is 25 percent owned by the German government.
The CEO said the bundle of measures proposed by French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel this week was not enough.
The idea of a common economic government leads in the right direction, he was quoted as saying, but “the implementation under consideration -- heads of state convening twice a year under Herman Van Rompuy’s leadership -- will not be enough to create trust in a sustainably improved political framework.”
France and Germany unveiled far-reaching plans for closer euro zone integration on Tuesday but they disappointed investors by declaring any thoughts of common euro bond issuance would have to wait.
Their message was that the focus should be on further economic integration rather than signing bailout cheques, and suggested that straying from euro zone rules and fiscal targets would no longer be tolerated.
Blessing said a return to national currencies would be the only alternative to creating a fiscal union, but that giving up the Euro would lead to economic and political breakdown in Europe.
“Should we come to the conclusion that despite all the efforts we cannot find a legal and political framework for our common currency, we should not shy away from abandoning the euro.”
Reporting by Ludwig Burger; editing by James Jukwey