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Mário Centeno: The deficit of Europe is in the fight against inequality

Question. The reform of the euro hopes that the next crisis does not threaten again the survival of the single currency. What is the euro area ready for another recession?

Response. we do Not know how or when he will come the next crisis. But now we are in a very different situation thanks to what we have done in recent years to protect our economies and our societies. It is true that in Europe there are still legacies of the crisis, but the progress has been tremendous. The euro area has been increasing for 22 consecutive quarters, and has created nine million jobs. All of that is a result of policy coordination in the euro area. For this reason it is also important to focus the discussion on the budget of the euro zone as a factor of competitiveness and convergence.

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Q. But on the street there is the feeling that the european project crumbles: the riots in France, the rise of euroscepticism, the first departure of a member of the EU... do you Have the Eurogroup and the old troika any responsibility in this disaster?

A. we Always appreciate the risks that the conquests. In the Uk or in Germany the unemployment rate is at the lowest level since the seventies. And in 2017, for the first time, the growth was more than 1.5% in all the countries of the euro zone. There is that the citizens make their own these results, which in large part are a consequence of adjustment programmes, very painful, and the reforms, which have had its political costs.

Q. What can you do to regain the trust of the citizens?

A. you have to give time to the reforms. In economics, the politicians are the only ones that can handle the variable of time. And when they become impatient, the disaster is near because in the impatience is where it grows populism. We have made reforms and have to believe in them. If not, all is lost. It is true that Europe, compared with USA, a deficit in the discussion about inequality and the distribution of income. But Europe has all the conditions to move forward with your project. It is, perhaps, one of the economic zones in the world, with better fundamentals: stability, education, technology... we don't need to create another Europe.

Q. is There a deficit in the battle against inequality?

A. Yes. And in terms of political debate, dialogue and to put in relation to the measures that are being taken with the results. In the united STATES, until the arrival of Trump, that was an important issue. In Europe this is not discussed.

Q. With Angela Merkel output and Emmanuel Macron besieged by the yellow vests, has complicated the possibility of strengthening the euro zone?

A. a year Ago, when I started as president of the Eurogroup, said that we were in for a good time: the economy was going well and several major countries began a new political cycle. The encouragement and the stimulus to achieve reforms are larger at the beginning of the cycle. Now comes another cycle of the european elections. I don't think that's going to have an influence on the discussion. Will have to see if the has in the decision.

Q. The countries of the so-called New Hanseatic League, led by the Netherlands, maintained the blockade of important decisions. How do you manage that situation?

R . The proof that there is no lock are the conclusions of the Eurogroup and of the summit of Friday, which collect the positions being advocated by different countries. As the coordinator of 19 finance ministers, and sometimes 27, I can't let you believe in locking forces. Must maintain a positive climate and collaboration. France and Germany are an essential factor, but Europe cannot be reduced to those two countries. The Hanseatic League makes proposals, which we have considered. In the debate the only thing is that there are closed positions in the not. There is to be constructive.

Q. But the agreement of the summit of Friday, for the imposition of the Hanseatic League, in large part, leaves out the stabilizing function of the future budget of the euro area, what reduces considerably their usefulness.

A. Is an issue that creates divisions and that you will continue to be discussed. Spain is pushing to reach a conclusion with your insurance proposal european unemployment. And you're not alone. In terms of budget we are closer to a decision on issues of convergence and competitiveness, but the debate about the stabilization continues.

Q. The deposit guarantee fund, which is essential for completing the Banking Union, also follows stuck.

A. Yes, it is true. We must continue working on that. Hence the decision to create a working group of high-level to collect all the technical arguments, political and market, for and against, to take forward the debate in an orderly manner. It is difficult to. But let's not forget that the US took almost five decades to reach its current version of the deposit guarantee fund.

Q. What plans do you have for the Eurogroup to calm markets if there is a disaster which some analysts compare with the fall of Lehman Brothers in the event of a Brexit hard?

A. With Lehman Brothers, who all argue that it is not saw it coming, the catastrophe. But that argument is not worth for the Brexit. We must be prepared for a possible Brexit hard, but most important of all is to take the necessary decisions to prevent it. It is in the hands of politicians and I think that we will get it. We're not going to get into that scenario with all the upheaval that would entail for our countries.

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