Crisis will strengthen EU role - Austrian finmin
VIENNA (Reuters) - The depth of the European Union crisis triggered by Greece's debt woes and the risk it presented for the bloc will force even notorious naysayers to agree to a stronger EU role, Austria's finance minister said on Wednesday.
"While the crisis was so deep and the potential threat to the euro so severe, it was still such a struggle to create the right structures to make decisions, and to make the right decisions," Josef Proell told Reuters in an interview.
"That has to teach us a lesson, including those who are always critical of stronger European rules," he said. "It has to force us into better European processes."
Proell did not say which euro sceptical nations he had in mind but cited as an example last week's agreement to overhaul how the EU is policing its financial industry, which had long been opposed by London.
"The opportunity to execute such measures is there now, we have seen that with the implementation of the new European supervisory structure," he said.
Proell, a member of the EU's task force charged with coming up with proposals on how to better monitor member countries' budget deficits, said he was hopeful the group could come up with a proposal in time for next month's EU summit.
He said it was also a good idea to make the rules and institutions like the European emergency loan fund EFSF a permanent feature of EU policy.
"This is a possibility we should discuss," he said. "We should not be afraid of giving the EU more weight. I think this is necessary."
Proell reiterated he was in favour for much stricter penalties for those in breach of EU budget rule, including measures that kick in automatically at an earlier stage and then get more severe gradually if offenders do not change direction.
He also said that the bloc should consider whether to slap sanctions on any state whose deficit moves in the wrong direction even if it stays below the Maastricht Treaty's deficit ceiling of 3 percent of gross domestic product.
Proell also told Reuters he would press ahead with plans to raise 500 million euros (418 million pounds) through a bank levy but aims to limit the impact on lending to the real economy.
(Writing by Boris Groendahl; Editing by Ruth Pitchford)
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