World / Europe

EU needs stronger voice in AIIB, says Juncker

By Fu Jing in Brussels ( Updated: 2015-09-09 22:08

EU needs stronger voice in AIIB, says Juncker

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker addresses the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, September 9, 2015.[Photo/Agencies]

European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker hinted on Wednesday that the European Union should represent a more unified "European voice" in the Beijing-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) while stressing that the EU needs stronger representation of the euro on the global scene.

Juncker raised the point when he delivered his first State of the Union speech at a European Parliament plenary in Strasbourg, France. He focused on the refugee crisis, economic recovery and climate change in his speech "Time for Honesty, Unity and Solidarity".

"How can it be that a strategically important new Infrastructure Investment Bank is created in Asia, and European governments, instead of coordinating efforts, engage in a race to see who is first to become a member?" Juncker said when commenting on the eroding capacity of the EU in international institutions.

He admitted that the euro area, which has the second largest currency in the world, can still not speak with one voice on economic matters in international financial institutions.

For example, he said in the daily work of the International Monetary Fund, instead of speaking with one voice as the euro area, Belgium and Luxembourg have to agree their voting position with Armenia and Israel; and Spain sits in a joint constituency with Latin American countries.

"How can it be that we – Europeans – are jointly major shareholders of global institutions such as the IMF and the World Bank and still end up acting as a minority?" said Juncker.

He added: "We need to grow up and put our common interests ahead of our national ones. For me, the President of the Eurogroup should be the natural spokesperson for the euro area in international financial institutions such as the IMF".

So far the European Union has not become a member of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, although a number of member countries have become founding members.

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