BRUSSELS (The Blaze/AP) -- Top European officials have called for countries that use the euro to grant an international authority the power to demand changes to their national budgets, as part of a grand vision to save the currency and strengthen the union.
Translation: EU authorities have proposed that governments in the 17-nation union surrender control of their budgets to a central authority.
The plan published Tuesday on the European Council website was drawn up by the "gang of four" European presidents: Council President Herman Van Rompuy, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, Eurogroup President Jean-Claude Juncker and European Central Bank President Mario Draghi.
The four officials' proposal appears aimed at encouraging Germany to accept closer fiscal integration, such as jointly issued eurobonds, which would supposedly spread debt risk across the eurozone and lower the risk of individual states needing a bailout. Germany opposes a quick adoption of eurobonds because it would expose Berlin to more potential costs and reduce incentives for weaker states to fix their finances.
The EU president argue that central control over those finance policies may reduce Germany's fears.
"Greater pooling of decision-making on budgets … (and) effective mechanisms to prevent and correct unsustainable fiscal policies in each member state are essential," they wrote in the report to be debated at a summit of EU leaders Thursday and Friday.
"Toward this end, upper limits on the annual budget balance and on government debt levels of individual member states could be agreed in common," the report adds.
If a country were to flout budget rules "the euro area level would be in a position to require changes."
It is not clear how much appetite eurozone governments have for surrendering further control over their budgets to Brussels, although all agreed to abide by a 3 percent deficit limit when they joined the single currency.
The plan proposes a "medium term" move towards eurobonds, an initiative opposed by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, as well as creating a banking union with a single authority that would insure banking deposits and have the power to shut or recapitalize banks directly, with help from Europe's permanent bailout fund.
Just stop and think about this for a moment: the “gang of four” has proposed a plan that involves eurozone governments surrendering control of their budgets to an entity that has the power to close down or bailout any bank. What could possibly go wrong?
The Reichstag building, house of German parliament Bundestag in Berlin. German parliament will vote on the European Stability Mechanism, ESM, and the EU fiscal compact on Friday, June 29. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)
For all the obvious reasons, Germany's deputy foreign minister quickly dismissed the eurobond idea.
"By beginning with pooling of debt, we're heading toward a dead end," Michael Link said in Luxembourg, repeating a sentiment often expressed by Chancellor Angela Merkel.
The document is long on vision but short on detail, especially measures to address short-term stresses that are threatening to shatter the single currency.
"Standing still is not an option," Barroso told reporters Tuesday, discussing the plan. "A big leap forward is now necessary."
At the end of the report, Van Rompuy volunteered to develop a "specific and time-bound roadmap for the achievement of the genuine economic and monetary union" by December.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.