It seems ironic that a report on the future of the European Union – Project Europe 2030: Challenges and Opportunities – is issued at the very moment when the continent?s leaders have been meeting in a desperate effort to contain the reverberations of an epic financial crisis. The flames in burning Athens, and the decisions taken in Brussels to seek to douse them, highlight both the dangers and capabilities of 21st-century Europe. But the wider context of the grave emergency in the eurozone also confirm that Europe needs much more than short-term management: it needs a larger sense of the critical choices facing it over the next generation.
Granted, this is the Guardian, quoting, El Pais, quoting anonymous sources, quoting Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, quoting Nicolas Sarkozy, but it still has to raise some eybrows at the European Central Bank:
The startling threat was made at a Brussels summit of EU leaders last Friday, at which the deal to bail out Greece was agreed, according to a report in El País newspaper quoting Spanish Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero. Zapatero revealed details of the French threat at a closed-doors meeting of leaders from his Spanish Socialist Party on Wednesday.
The Commission has today presented plans to tighten up budgetary supervision and oversight in an attempt to avoid a repeat of the current eurozone crisis in the future (i.e. making up for the obvious and fundamental flaw of the eurozone, which is that monetary union cannot exist without economic and political union). ?We want governments to send their budget outlines to Brussels for review before they are approved by their national parliaments,” EU Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn said today. “We can then see early whether a country is adhering to the Stability and Growth Pact. If not, we would intervene.”
May 11, 2010
With all eyes on Europe?s last-ditch efforts to save the eurozone from collapse, it is hardly surprising that a thoughtful, 46-page report on the European Union?s long-term future has gone almost completely unnoticed. But the study, commissioned by EU heads of state and government in 2007 and published last weekend, is worth taking a look at.
In the 11 May 2010 post on the eurozone rescue package They Said It Wouldn?t Happen, the Open Europe Blog makes these specific allegations with regard to Article 122 TFEU:
The size of the decisions to shore up the eurozone is mind-boggling, but they require more than blessings or condemnation based on gut reactions.
The statement by the heads of state or government of the euro area 25 March 2010 evoked the shared responsibility of all euro area members for the economic and financial stability in the eurozone. The leaders were willing to take determined and coordinated action, if needed.
The latest in our series of blog posts inspired by the rescue actions in the eurozone was More on the EU?s no-bailout rule (European financial stabilisation mechanism), 14 May 2010.
The fresh new face of change at the head of Britain’s Conservative Party?and now its government?looks awfully like the high-class leaders of old.
There is much to reflect on following the decisions taken over the last weekend. The most important ones are:
- Policymakers have finally woken up to the scale of the problem;
- They still do not realize that promises are not enough;
- The instruments of fiscal discipline have been blown apart.
The Independent has a fascinating piece on British authorities’ efforts to stamp out the ?500 bill (about $627), a denomination apparently favored by organized crime:
It has been an absolutely extraordinary week in European politics. A Con-Lib coalition government has been formed in the UK; the eurozone has been shaken to its very core amid the ongoing sovereign debt crisis; European leaders have agreed on a mind-boggling rescue package worth some ?500 billion (and killed the no bail-out principle in the process); the European Central Bank has done what previously was unthinkable and intervened directly in bond markets; the Commission has tabled proposals to give the EU the mandate to sign off national budgets; Angela Merkel has called for a Treaty change to toughen up the Stability and Growth Pact (also calling for a European Army while she was at it); and the UK has become isolated on the very symbolically and economically important AIFM Directive (although the FT was unnecessarily hysterical today).
Nick Clegg is playing with fire. As someone attracted to pyromania myself I am attracted and admiring. I just want to spell out the danger in terms of democracy and power in response to his article in today?s Guardian.
Nick defends his leading the Lib Dems into coalition in terms of the balance of parliamentary forces and economic concerns. He doesn?t mention Gordon Brown?s bad faith and selfish, closed mentality. Nor the main force behind the Coalition, it orchestrator and conductor, David Cameron, whose audacious project to turn the Tory party back to its one-nation Whig tradition I have analysed in The End of Thatcherism.
As we detailed in our press release today ? the Con-Lib coalition Government deal on Europe has some things which reform-minded people, such as ourselves, can be happy about, and some things to feel a twinge of disappointment over. A basic summary of our thoughts on the matter is here:
There have been extensive reports over the possible misuse of the postal-voting system in Britain?s general election of 2010, perhaps amounting to systematic fraud by groups intent on manipulating the choices of voters in particular areas. The issue raises great concern over the integrity of a democracy long regarded (particularly by itself) as one of the world?s cleanest; and it is even more embarrassing when Britain is so prominent in earnestly lecturing other countries (not least two it has invaded, Afghanistan and Iraq) on the need for democratic probity.
My feelings on the Lib-Con coalition are pretty close to Anthony’s, but I’m a bit less sanguine. I totally agree about the tribalist twaddle coming from the archaic grotesques in the Labour Party. In fact I think I would go further on one very obvious but apparently now largely forgotten point: Gordon could have achieved a progressive alliance two and a half years ago if he’d done even half of what Anthony and I were urging him to do on a new constitutional settlement just before and just after he became PM. And the reason he didn’t, despite his flirtations with constitutional reform going back to his Sovereignty Lecture, was that the Labour Party had constitutional conservatism deep in its DNA. So Labour attacks on the Lib Dems for getting into bed with the wicked Tories are deeply hypocritical.
Political participants and commentators from all parts of the political spectrum have been left astounded by the events of the past week. Who can really understand the implications of the new coalition between the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats?
Think about it. Arch eurosceptics like Iain Duncan Smith and Liam Fox are sitting down in Cabinet next to their polar opposites, Nick Clegg and Chris Huhne. What kind of a policy on Europe can satisfy all of them?
Spain and Portugal reacted to the crisis by announcing drastic austerity measures. In a parallel move the EU Commission has called for greater control over national budgets. While some commentators say even more should be done, others accept neither budget cuts nor a loss of national autonomy.
The new UK government will be “a positive participant in the European Union, playing a strong and positive role with our partners,” reads the text of a coalition agreement struck between the Conservatives and their Liberal Democrat partners, indicating that the coalition may pursue a more conciliatory approach to its relations with the bloc than the Tories had suggested in their campaign.