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BBC World Service

European Commission head delivers speech on state of EU

Marketplace Staff Sep 28, 2011
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Jeremy Hobson: Well in Brussels this morning, the head of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso delivered the European version of the State of the Union address. I’m not sure — but I don’t think he started off with “the state of the union is strong.”

The BBC’s economics correspondent Andrew Walker joins us from London to discuss. Good morning

Andrew Walker: Good morning.

Hobson: So tell us a little bit about what Mr. Barroso has been saying this morning.

Walker: He has been telling us that the European Commission is now making a formal proposal for a tax on financial transactions, on tradings and shares, bonds, and derivatives. That’s something that’s got quite a lot of support in continental Europe but I think it’s going to meet very substantial resistance in Britain.

Another thing he’s been talking about is the idea that the European Union, especially the eurozone, needs to be more integrated in the way it runs its government finances and in particular, that there needs to be a lot more discipline.

Hobson: And that call for coordination, along with some of the that ideas we’ve been hearing, particularly that there should be more action from the European central bank, sort of like we’ve got more action from the Fed here in the United states, these things sort of sound like they’re got a bit of an American handprint on them.

Walker: I think that’s a very fair comment and it’s certainly the case that over the course of the last weekend the treasury secretary Tim Geithner was lobbying very hard to force some very decisive action to deal with the euro zone crisis and he does indeed see greater integration of government finances and making more use of the European central bank part as an important part of that.

It’s just that there are very serious political obstacles from both the financially strong countries like Germany and from some of those weaker ones like Greece.

Hobson: Political obstacles — that rings a bell. The BBC’s economic correspondent Andrew Walker, thanks so much.

Walker: That’s my pleasure.

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