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Sunday, May 20, 2007

Uncomfortable questions

Alexander Radwan, a member of the Bureau of the European People's Party who sits on the European Parliament's Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs, has criticised the endorsement by EU institutions of Malta's Euro bid. David Lindsay reports:

The chairman of the European Peoples Party’s parliamentary group Joseph Daul has welcomed the European Commission’s endorsement of Malta’s euro adoption bid – two days after the EPP economy and finance spokesperson cast a dark shadow of doubt on Malta’s euro aspirations. Mr Daul’s praise, curiously, comes just after Member of European Parliament Alexander Radwan – who serves as the EPP’s spokesperson for the European Parliament’s Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs – unleashed an attack against the Commission’s approval for Malta and Cyprus to adopt the euro on 1 January... The move could be interpreted as a pre-emptive gag against any future uncomfortable questions Mr Radwan might intend raising after he tabled the issue in the European Parliament on Tuesday – the day before the EC was to give Malta and Cyprus its nod of approval for euro adoption.

Speaking in the European Parliament, Mr Radwan questioned the accuracy of the fiscal data presented by Malta and asked why the country was being considered euro-worthy when its level of public debt had not been reduced to below 60 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) as required by the Maastricht Criteria. Contacted this week, Mr Radwan insisted there is a “substantial need to clarify” the matters raised and deemed the Commission’s move “anti-democratic”. He commented, “Firstly, given the past experiences with Greece and Hungary, we are questioning whether the Commission is sure the data supplied by Malta is accurate and we are asking the Commission to verify such data and provide a guarantee that it is correct..

“We will of course be asking the European Commission to follow up on these matters, which will also be discussed within the Committee,” Mr Radwan added. The EC’s decision will need to be approved at the next meeting of European economy and finance ministers, again by the European Council, while another meeting of finance ministers will set the final and irrevocable exchange rate between the Maltese lira and the euro in July. The European Parliament, however, has not been left out of the loop and it will also be consulted on the decision. The EP’s response and agreement will be needed before the July meeting.

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