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ECB's Asmussen calls for stronger European institutions

European Central Bank (ECB) Executive Board member Joerg Asmussen attends an interview with Reuters in Berlin, February 22, 2013. REUTERS/Pa
European Central Bank (ECB) Executive Board member Joerg Asmussen attends an interview with Reuters in Berlin, February 22, 2013. REUTERS/Pa

BERLIN (Reuters) - European Central Bank policymaker Joerg Asmussen said on Sunday that closer integration within Europe called for European Union institutions - in particular its parliament - to be strengthened to ensure democratic control and accountability.

"The increasing level of integration within Europe calls for a new institutional design to ensure legitimization, accountability and democratic control," the German ECB Executive Board member said at an event organized by the Kiel institute for the World Economy.

Asmussen said governments should ensure national parliaments were appropriately informed and involved in European decision procedures. But often, decisions with the European Union's common interest could only be made at a supranational level.

"Therefore European institutions should be strengthened, in particular the European Parliament which could maybe also convene in a euro area format," he said.

Germany's weekly Der Spiegel wrote on Sunday that German Chancellor Angela Merkel was sounding increasingly skeptical about more power being accrued in Brussels.

In an article entitled "The Turnaround", Der Spiegel wrote that, at a summit of the European People's Party in Vienna this week, Merkel gave the impression that she felt there was already too much Europe. In the past, she has said that there is a need for "more Europe, not less".

Der Spiegel wrote that while Merkel's Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble would like to see the head of the European Commission directly elected, Merkel was not so sure.

"I am hesitant about this," she was quoted as saying. The magazine said Merkel felt it would be good for balance within the institutions for state and government heads to also be involved in this decision.

Asmussen said in his speech on Sunday that Europe needed to "complete with great urgency the banking union".

According to a copy of his speech, Asmussen said Europe needed to make a strong commitment towards a single resolution mechanism, to enable a smooth winding down of banks, especially those with large cross-border activities.

Banking union would also need to entail a strong Single Resolution Authority as well as a Single Resolution Fund.

(Reporting by Sarah Marsh; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)

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