Monday

21st May 2018

Opinion

A fig leaf of continental proportions

  • This new union must feature pan-European supervision of the banking sector (Photo: European Commission)

As focus moves from arguments between Greece and its EU partners to a possible bail-out for Spain, it is becoming clear that in efforts to solve the eurozone crisis EU leaders are missing the wood for the trees.

There is no denying that Greece’s predicament is perilous and its place within the eurozone under intense scrutiny. Efforts of Herculean proportions are required for the country to pay off its debts and reform its economy. Spain's challenges might not be of an existential nature to the same degree but the structural faults in its economy can have systemic consequences, not least due to its size. Nevertheless, the debt problems of individual member states are, in the grand scheme of things, only the side-show and unfortunately a distraction from the real issues.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

With growth figures all over Europe in depressingly low levels, investor confidence deflated, the banking sector in a permanent state of insecurity and the public exhausted by competitive austerity across the EU, the eurozone and the EU as a whole is in need of brave, pan-European solutions.

What we have instead is national politicians trying to solve European problems with national political consideration in mind. It’s like trying to open the front door of your building using your apartment key. It will never work.

Piecemeal, short terms fixes cannot replace permanent long term measures. For far too long European leaders in most EU capitals have shied away from articulating a vision for Europe, explaining it to their citizens and engaging in an honest, fact-based discussion with them about the direction the EU needs to take if it is to continue its successful path.

Dealing with the immediate economic problems of certain eurozone member states is of course important but the real emphasis must be put in constructing the foundations of a new political union. That must include fiscal integration as well as economic and monetary union. In the context of such integration the mutualisation of debt will be made possible and the sooner that happens the better. This new union must feature pan-European supervision of the banking sector and the proposals currently on the table are an important development to that end.

The eurozone also needs pan-European investment in growth-generating policies. Pro-cyclical austerity measures across the EU have been detrimental for the growth potential of the EU. Attention must be given to how to deliver targeted, value-for-money investment.

Spending at the EU level can deliver economies of scale, multiply returns and create savings for individual member states. The EU should pull its resources together and invest in research and education, high-end technology, green energy, telecommunications infrastructure and all the elements of the economy of the future that will pull the EU out of the current state of economic stagnation.

The eurozone needs European politicians to deliver European solutions to European problems. It needs pan-European political leadership. Who is up for the job?

The writer is Chairman of the European Movement UK. petros.fassoulas@euromove.org.uk

Interview

France and Germany moving towards closer political union

"You will be surprised in the autumn by the degree of movement that will have taken place in some member states," says Thomas Wieser, one of the economists preparing plans for banking union ahead of the October EU summit.

Economic gloom poses problems for bailed-out countries

Recession-hit Portugal is likely to miss its deficit target this year, the troika of international lenders is expected to conclude in September. Meanwhile, lower growth in Ireland may also bring troubles further down the road.

Integration of Syrian refugees in Europe needs scrutiny

Most refugee-related services are outsourced to the private sector and NGOs, which are not adequately monitored and evaluated. When governments and EU institutions provide funding for refugee projects, they should scrutinise the NGOs and private players they work with.

Europe's last wild rivers under threat at Balkans summit

The EU is prioritising motorways and gas pipelines across the potential accession Western Balkan countries, plus hydropower energy projects which threaten one of the world's freshwater biodiversity hotspots.

More commitment to renewables from Council, please

More and more consumers are likely to invest in solar panels in the future as it becomes simpler to produce one's own electricity, writes Monique Goyens, director general of BEUC, the European Consumer Organisation.

News in Brief

  1. Trump warns Nato allies' low budgets will be 'dealt with'
  2. Only Estonia, Greece and UK hit Nato spending target
  3. EU to start process to counter US Iran sanctions
  4. Macedonia PM sees 'possible solutions' in Greek name row
  5. EU takes six countries to court over air pollution
  6. New Catalan leader sworn in without reference to Spain
  7. Merkel and Putin revive dialogue in troubled times
  8. European companies putting Iran business on hold

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersOECD Report: Gender Equality Boosts GDP Growth in Nordic Region
  2. Centre Maurits Coppieters“Peace and reconciliation is a process that takes decades” Dr. Anthony Soares on #Brexit and Northern Ireland
  3. Mission of China to the EUMEPs Positive on China’s New Measures of Opening Up
  4. Macedonian Human Rights MovementOld White Men are Destroying Macedonia by Romanticizing Greece
  5. Counter BalanceControversial EIB-Backed Project Under Fire at European Parliament
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersIncome Inequality Increasing in Nordic Countries
  7. European Jewish CongressEU Leaders to Cease Contact with Mahmoud Abbas Until He Apologizes for Antisemitic Comments
  8. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual Report celebrates organization’s tenth anniversary
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Cooperation Needed on Green Exports and Funding
  10. Mission of China to the EUPremier Li Confirms China Will Continue to Open Up
  11. European Jewish CongressCalls on Brussels University to Revoke Decision to Honour Ken Loach
  12. Sustainable Energy Week 2018"Lead the Clean Energy Transition"- Register and Join Us in Brussels from 5 to 7 May

Latest News

  1. Zuckerberg and Trump top the EU's agenda This WEEK
  2. Integration of Syrian refugees in Europe needs scrutiny
  3. Bulgarian PM: No asylum reform without stronger border
  4. Eight countries to miss EU data protection deadline
  5. Italian populists to defy EU debt rules
  6. Commission 'playing tricks' with EU budget figures
  7. How France escaped EU legal action over chemical ban
  8. 'Connectivity' trumps enlargement at Balkans summit