Tuesday

21st Aug 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.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

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.

Building a Europe more resilient to terrorism

One year to the day since the terror attacks in Barcelona and Cambrils, the commissioner for home affairs spells out what action the EU is taking now to protect against further attacks.

News in Brief

  1. Italy threatens to return migrants to Libya
  2. MEP accuses Maltese government of 'hate campaign'
  3. EU values not negotiable, German FM tells Poland
  4. Audit warns 840 French bridges at risk of collapse
  5. Fashion king pours money into campaign for second Brexit vote
  6. Germany could aid Turkey, SPD leader hints
  7. UK government set to publish no-deal Brexit advice
  8. Germany and Greece strike deal on taking back migrants

EU's moment of truth in Khan al-Ahmar

EU states have spoken out in strident terms against the Israeli demolition of another Palestinian community - but what are they prepared to do to stop the war crime?

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  2. IPHRCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  3. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs
  4. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  5. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  6. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  8. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  10. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  12. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma

Latest News

  1. Wind delays launch of European wind-mapping satellite
  2. Greece 'normal' again after end of crisis, EU says
  3. Putin strikes blow against Russia's isolation by Europe
  4. EU-China cooperation on CO2 storage lost in limbo
  5. Greece exits bailouts, but difficult path ahead
  6. EU gets record response on 'summertime' consultation
  7. 'Nativism' and the upcoming Swedish and Bavarian elections
  8. Former Malta opposition leader fears for his life

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us