The paper notes that "the energetic and outspoken leader of the centrist Liberal Democrats in the European parliament has become the legislator most feared by member states and the European Commission as they try to win parliament's approval for the new rules".
It also quotes a senior European diplomat who says "Verhofstadt holds the key". "He is himself a separate institution. He has an enormous impact on the opinion of the parliament."
The FT writes: "Mr Verhofstadt is determined to use that influence to toughen rules he believes were unduly softened by national governments. At stake, he argues, is not only the survival of the euro but the opportunity to forge a closer union - one in which member states' budgets, pensions and tax policies are more closely supervised by an empowered Brussels."
"Such boldness is unsettling European diplomats, who are desperate to wrap up a deal this month. Any delay would set back for at least another budgetary year a central element of the reforms: the ability to fine governments that overspend. It could also send a worrying signal to financial markets already doubting Europe's ability to respond to the crisis."
Read the article in full on the Financial Times website.