Germany's parliamentary president Wolfgang Schaeuble admitted in a newspaper interview on Monday that he had “asked a lot” of the Greeks when he was finance minister at the peaks of the country's crisis, but had good reason to do so.
“As minister of finance, I had asked for a lot from the Greeks, but these reforms had been in the interest of the Greeks if they wanted to stay in the eurozone,” Schaeuble told Germany's Berliner Morgenpost.
Voicing his concerns about the future of Europe in light of upcoming European Parliament elections in May, Schaeuble said that the bloc needs to “act quickly.”
“The problems are huge and so urgent that no country can handle them alone. We need more Europe, but the resistance to the European Union is getting bigger,” the Bundestag chief said, adding that the elections may “come as an opportunity.”
He also encouraged participation in the polls, saying that “perhaps more people will realize that the European Parliament is important and that they should vote.”
“The number of Euroskeptic MEPs who favor populist and nationalist solutions should not increase,” Schaeuble warned, stressing that “the outcome of the European elections also depends on how the next EU Commission is formed.”
The former German finance minister also expressed concerns about the future cohesion of the common currency bloc, saying Europe has not yet solved the “fundamental problem of monetary union.”
“A common currency will in the long run require a common financial, economic and labor market policy,” he said. “The differences in the competitiveness of individual countries have become larger rather than smaller. This is a problem that can not be solved with today's instruments in the whole of Europe. Therefore, it has to be resolved in the member states.”