With his appeal in a SPIEGEL interview for national leaders to be given greater independence from parliaments in euro bailout decisions, Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti has sparked intense anger in Germany. Members of both Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government and the opposition have labelled Monti’s demands “undemocratic.”
Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti is concerned that the euro zone is inflicting serious damage on Europe. In an interview with SPIEGEL published on Monday, he said: “The tensions that have accompanied the euro zone in recent years are already leading to a psychological dissolution of Europe.” The 68-year-old warned that if the euro were allowed to become a factor in Europe drifting apart, “then all the foundations of the European Project will be destroyed.”
But one statement in his interview in particular has sparked a contentious debate. Monti said that European leaders needed to defend their freedom to act against parliaments. “If governments allow themselves to be entirely bound to the decisions of their parliament, without protecting their own freedom to act, a break up of Europe would be a more probable outcome than deeper integration.”
Since taking office in Italy in November, Monti has led a cabinet of technocrats that has the support of a broad majority in parliament. Nevertheless, when it comes to economic reforms, austerity measures and the euro bailout, Monti often struggles to patch together a majority ahead of key votes. But his comments also appear to be directed at Germany, where Chancellor Angela Merkel requires parliamentary approval for most of her major bailout policies.