FRANKFURT, Oct 16: The German government wants rapid changes to the European Union treaty, handing a stronger role to the Economic and Monetary Affairs commissioner, Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said on Tuesday.

Speaking to journalists on a return flight from Asia, Schaeuble said Chancellor Angela Merkel will present a corresponding plan to fellow leaders at an EU summit in Brussels on Thursday and Friday.

“We have to take bigger steps toward a fiscal union,” he said, “and we must use this chance now.” The commissioner should acquire unilateral decision-making power and be able to reject national budgets, returning them to national parliaments if debt and deficits problems are not sufficiently addressed, he said.

“More mutual fiscal policy automatically means a limit on national budgetary sovereignty,” Schaeuble said.

At present, only the EU’s competition commissioner has unilateral powers and “is respected and feared throughout the entire world,” the minister pointed out. Further, the EU treaty must be changed to improve democracy at the European Parliament, Schaeuble argued.

Germany will propose that only members involved in a specific issue be allowed to vote on it. For example, those countries which are not signed up to the Schengen agreement, allowing free passage of citizens to most countries in the EU, would not be permitted to vote on the matter.

Likewise, eurozone members of parliament would be able to vote on eurozone issues, but not those outside the bloc. Ideally, a convention to agree on the treaty changes would be held in December, Schaeuble said.—AFP

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