EU budget/euro/European Central Bank
Q. – The 2011 European budget – up by 2.91% – is expected to be adopted today, Wednesday, by MEPs. Did you favour its approval?
THE MINISTER – If the 2011 budget weren’t voted through, it would be France’s budget that would make the cash advances and be burdened to the tune of €2 billion to €3 billion. And symbolically, this approval also shows that Europe is facing up to the crisis and going back on the offensive. When all the Member States are making efforts to manage their public finances properly, it’s impossible to say the European Union budget should increase by nearly 6%. We must spend better, not more, by making European aid more simple and reactive.
Q. – The financing of the ITER nuclear reactor project in Cadarache isn’t included in this budgetary compromise…
THE MINISTER – We couldn’t expect to obtain everything from the very outset. But we have a commitment from the European Parliament and from all the actors that ITER will be discussed again as early as January, and therefore a commitment to a positive outcome to this question.
Q. – By ratifying this Friday the successor, from 2013 onwards, to the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) – by means of a pithy modification of the treaties – isn’t the European Council using a sledgehammer to crack a nut?
THE MINISTER – The financial markets will be able to gauge the determination of the European Union and the Eurogroup to defend their currency. In 18 months, we’ve been able to react to two crises and equip ourselves with a lasting mechanism for defending the euro: the distance covered is considerable. Economic governance has been put at the heart of discussions by President Sarkozy. We favour speed and effectiveness in the revision of the treaties.
Q. – Must the initial endowment of €440 billion for the EFSF, aimed at helping countries in difficulty, be increased?
THE MINISTER – It’s not on the cards. The fund is properly endowed and has shown its effectiveness. We don’t need turbulence right now, but rather action and sang-froid.
Q. – Must the next president of the ECB necessarily be German?
THE MINISTER – It’s important to have in this post a competent person recognized within the ECB as an expert. It’s too early to begin this debate. To talk of Trichet’s successor at this stage is pointless./.