WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A future euro zone budget will soon have to take on the task of cushioning economic shocks despite current resistance from countries in northern Europe, a top European Union official said on Saturday.
European Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs Pierre Moscovici said the setting up of the limited "budgetary instrument for convergence and competitiveness for the euro area", as agreed by EU leaders last December, was only the first step in creating a more developed budget.
"This is the first step, a foot in the door," Moscovici told Reuters in an interview on the sidelines of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank spring meetings in Washington.
"We need an instrument that is also capable of addressing asymmetric shocks, to create convergence and that can also have a stabilization function," he said.
The design of the limited "budgetary instrument," with a yet undetermined size and focused on supporting investment and research and development, is to be ready in June. But Moscovici said the EU could be forced to broaden the scope.
"Here at the IMF we are discussing a slowdown, downside risks, a possible next crisis, we are seeing that all our countries struggle with inequalities, that there is a rise of nationalism - we cannot wait for five more years," he said.
"I am quite sure that the economic, social and political circumstances will lead us back to this greater ambition sooner rather than later," he said.
Growth is slowing around the world, including in Europe, due to a number of factors including trade tensions and the risk of Britain crashing out of the EU without a deal.