By Ambrose Evans-Pritchard
Germany’s Bundesbank has issued a thundering denunciation of Europe’s rescue policies and actions by the European Central Bank, alleging that EU treaty law has been “completely gutted”.
Jens Weidmann, the bank’s president, said monetary union risks losing its democratic legitimacy as EU leaders take a “large step” towards a debt union without legal authority, and sever the crucial link between budget policy and elected parliaments.
He said mass bond purchases by the European Central Bank had “strained the existing framework of the currency union and blurred the boundaries between monetary policy and fiscal policy. Decisions on further risk-taking should be made by governments and parliaments, as only they have democratic legitimacy.”
Mr Weidmanm said that if Europe is unwilling to accept a genuine fiscal union backed by a European tax system, it must strengthen the existing ‘no bail-out’ clause in the EU Treaties “instead of letting it be completely gutted.”
The escalating protest from the Bundesbank leaves the ECB in an invidious situation as it tries to shore up Italy and Spain, holding yields on their 10-year bonds at 5pc by intervening on the secondary market.
Julian Callow said Italy must redeem a record €62bn (£55bn) of debt by the end of September yet the government of Silvio Berlusconi is blacksliding on its austerity package and cavilling over details.
The government has agreed on tougher measurs to curb tax evasions but a wealth tax was dropped on the insistence of Mr Berlusconi. The deal after three weeks of wrangling is so thin that the ECB may find it hard to justify further purchases of Italian debt. The bank has used intervention as a pressure tool to force states to deliver austerity.
Mr Callow said the eurozone is already in an industrial recession and needs stimulus to head off a possible credit crunch and stabilise the debt crisis. He said the ECB should cut interest rates to cushion the effect of fiscal tightening in a string of EMU states and halt accelerating capital flight from the eurozone.
Barclays Capital said the Greek economy is in the grip of debt-deflation and is likely to contract a further 5.7pc this year. The deficit remains stuck at 8pc of GDP. The parliament’s own watchdog said debt dynamics are “out of control”.