Volker Kauder: ‘Europe is Our Future’

Volker Kauder, 62, is the head of the parliamentary group of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives. In a SPIEGEL interview, he defines his party’s red lines in the euro bailout efforts and warns against hasty changes to the constitution in response to the euro crisis.


SPIEGEL: Mr. Kauder, the center-left Social Democratic Party (SPD), the largest opposition party, is telling Germans that the euro crisis can’t be resolved without shared debt liability. Why don’t Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and its Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU) — have the courage to tell people the truth?

Volker Kauder: The reason is very simple: With us (in power), there won’t be this kind of liability. Euro bonds don’t solve a single problem. In order to re-establish the confidence of the markets, each euro-zone member country needs to put its budget in order by itself. Incidentally, I doubt whether this is the Social Democrats’ last word. They were first for euro bonds, and then against them. Now they’re apparently for them again.

SPIEGEL: It’s not just the SPD. Even Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble of the CDU has indicated that he could imagine having euro bonds as long as there were shared EU fiscal policies, as well. Is he right?

Kauder: It worries me that the answers we must now find for solving the crisis in the short term are mixed up with questions about the future that must be answered somewhere down the road. Of course one could talk about euro bonds if the European Union were to become a state like Germany someday. But in that case, those would also be sovereign bonds and not euro bonds. But that isn’t our vision for the European Union, and things won’t reach that point, either.

SPIEGEL: Are you saying that your vision for the European Union differs from that of the finance minister?

Kauder: No, I’m an ardent supporter of the European Union. The EU is the greatest project of my generation. Our key goal was to not have any more wars. Thanks to the EU, we’ve achieved that. Today, Europe is also our future. For future generations, in particular, a strong EU can be a kind of life insurance policy — in a world in which the emerging countries of Asia are becoming more powerful competitors. But, at the same time, I say that it’s not enough to simply call for more European integration as the answer to the crisis. The steps leading to a strong EU have to be well thought-through.

SPIEGEL: In the fall, the heads of the main EU institutions will present reform proposals. These state that if a euro-zone member country plans on making new expenditures that will increase its overall debt, the euro-zone finance ministers must first approve them.

Kauder: I have my doubts about that. In the EU, we won’t get to this centralized budget planning for all members so quickly. However, we need to reiterate yet again that national budgets must adhere to strict stability rules. And, more than anything, I can imagine seeing an independent authority monitoring whether these rules are observed.

SPIEGEL: Who could assume this job?

Kauder: A special chamber of the European Court of Justice, for example, or the European Court of Auditors. That would entail a tightening of the now agreed-upon fiscal pact that could considerably strengthen faith in EU solidarity.

SPIEGEL: There have also been other proposals, such as ones calling for the direct election of the European Commission president or creating the position of an EU finance minister.

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