(Source: By Alexandra Mayer-Hohdahl and Sinikka Tarvainen and Thomas Borchert, dpa, Hamburg, Germany (MCT) – Strasbourg, France (dpa) – European Union lawmakers on Tuesday took Finland and the Netherlands to task for seemingly backtracking from crisis-fighting measures agreed at a summit last week, threatening to reignite nervousness on the financial markets.
EU politicians, meanwhile, went into crisis-control mode, with Spanish Economy Minister Luis de Guindos saying that no single country could block decisions involving the eurozone’s bailout fund.
The conclusions adopted at the summit last week were “clear” and had been adopted “by unanimity,” De Guindos insisted in Madrid.
“The prime ministers of Netherlands and Finland obviously weren’t listening. There is something different being said at home than in Brussels,” Hannes Swoboda, the leader of the socialist faction, said during the European Parliament’s plenary in Strasbourg, France.
“These two prime ministers have to sign up and recognize what they signed up to in Brussels,” he added.
Liberal leader Guy Verhofstadt, a former Belgian prime minister, also warned that the uncertainty was putting into question the summit outcome, which at first had been celebrated as a major breakthrough.
Among other things, EU leaders agreed – under pressure from crisis-battered Italy – to set up a bond-buying mechanism to reduce the borrowing costs of countries under market pressure, with the European Central Bank acting as an “agent” for eurozone rescue funds.
But reports emerged on Monday that Finland and the Netherlands – traditionally austerity-minded eurozone hardliners – would block the eurozone’s permanent bailout fund, the European Stability Mechanism (ESM), from buying bonds in secondary markets.
A source close to the Finnish government told dpa that Helsinki had already expressed those reservations during the summit.
“We were not the only ones. These bonds are not mentioned in the final document of the summit,” he said. “Therefore, no one can say that we changed our position.”
There was no immediate reaction from the Netherlands.
The European Commission downplayed the reports, with a spokesman noting that the ESM has a provision allowing member states holding 85 per cent of the fund’s capital to approve measures “when urgent decisions are needed in order to safeguard the euro.”
Finland and the Netherlands contribute 7.5 per cent of the ESM capital.
Financial markets, which have repeatedly pushed the EU into finding new crisis-fighting measures, were holding steady Tuesday. They had started the trading week on Monday with the euro slipping and borrowing costs for Spain edging up slightly.
Helsinki last year ruffled feathers by delaying a second bailout for Greece, demanding collateral on its share of loans from the current EFSF bailout fund. dpa tbo sit amh jln Authors: Alexandra Mayer-Hohdahl, Sinikka Tarvainen, Thomas Borchert
©2012 Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH (Hamburg, Germany)
Visit Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH (Hamburg, Germany) at www.dpa.de/English.82.0.html
Distributed by MCT Information Services