September 19, 2017 / 9:25 PM / a year ago

Juncker's ideas should inspire member states to form common vision - EU's Wieser

VIENNA (Reuters) - Jean-Claude Juncker’s reform plan should inspire EU member states to build a common vision for an after-Brexit bloc and not to quarrel about details, Thomas Wieser, the EU official who runs preparations for Eurogroup meetings, said on Tuesday.

FILE PHOTO Jean-Claude Juncker looks on before addressing the European Parliament during a debate on The State of the European Union in Strasbourg, France, September 13, 2017. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann -

The head of the European Commission last week challenged German and French ideas of how to revamp the euro zone institutions after Britain leaves the European Union in March 2019, calling for a pan-European finance minister in charge of all forms of EU or euro zone financing via the EU budget.

Juncker suggested such a minister should also be the chairman of all euro zone finance ministers and be accountable to the European Parliament. His ideas of expanding the euro zone and deepening its cooperation triggered mixed reactions and lively discussions within the member states.

“He (Juncker) addressed the big topics of the next 20, 30 years, but many made the mistake of interpreting it as if (the changes) were to be expected next year,” Wieser said at a panel discussion in Vienna.

“I do have the impression that too many quarrel about nitty-gritty details before having discussed the overall issue.”

If member states could agree on what they want, it would be much easier to draw up a time table for the next three years, said the president of the Eurogroup working group, which prepares decisions for euro finance ministers.

“The real debate is, do we want a centralist, federalist European Union in the future, or a more decentralized bloc, controlled by the individual governments and parliaments?”

The European Union government heads should discuss these issues at their meetings in December and March, agree on framework conditions and after that task EU officials to produce concrete reform proposals, Wieser said.

Reporting by Kirsti Knolle; Editing by Dan Grebler

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