Tuesday

16th Jul 2019

Opinion

Making Europe's economy work for its citizens

  • "Society, not the markets, should come first" (Photo: West Midlands Police)

In coming days, we will be given another opportunity to further improve the European economy and the lives of our citizens. Our leaders are set to discuss new steps to strengthen the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) when they meet at the European Council later this month.

As Ministers of European Affairs of six EU countries with social-democratic governments, we want to see a courageous reform which will further enhance the EMU’s functioning and credibility. In our opinion, more needs to be done to ring-fence European economies and the European Social Model.

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

The Euro is one of the greatest achievements of the EU. Having a shared currency has brought tremendous political and economic benefits to citizens and has helped to mitigate negative effects of the global financial and economic crisis in Europe. Nevertheless, the crisis has also revealed that a common currency is not enough.

Given the well-known shortcomings, however, we want to make sure that the Economic and Monetary Union works best for the people’s well-being. Therefore, we argue in favour of a fairer, more democratic EMU that supports economic growth and is people-oriented.

To achieve these goals, the union needs a strong social pillar. The crisis and austerity policies have severely affected the lives of millions of people in several European countries. It has revealed how urgent it is to equip the Economic and Monetary Union with a real social dimension that offers solutions to current social challenges, notably the dramatic unemployment.

In our opinion, this could be achieved through viable reform programmes that introduce minimum social standards, including decent minimum wages according to the level of economic development of individual Member States. Society, not the markets, should come first.

We also want an EMU that fosters economic growth. Fiscal responsibility needs to be coupled with socially balanced reforms and investments to speed up the recovery of our economies. Sound finances are not an end but a prerequisite for strong social systems. We need a stronger “E”, i.e. a real Economic Union as part of the EMU. In practice, this means greater coordination of economic policies also to bridge inequalities between and within countries in the EMU.

We need to ensure that balanced budgets do not come above social inclusion nor the sustainability of welfare states. Our goal for the EMU is economic stability, social cohesion and full employment. We therefore envision more safeguards to secure that citizens no longer pay for the mistakes of the banking sector as well as budget solidarity with countries experiencing a severe economic shock resulting in a sudden increase of unemployment.

Europe’s sound economic recovery should be a common objective of all, with fiscal and social justice at the core of these efforts. To fight tax evasion and tax avoidance, countries should automatically exchange tax-related information, discourage aggressive tax planning, and close tax havens. In addition, fiscal measures ensuring equal and redistributive taxation, supporting a shift to greener economy, and limiting financial speculation should also be introduced and strengthened. To this end we support the rapid introduction of a Financial Transaction Tax.

Lastly, we want a more democratic EMU. It is our responsibility to restore citizens’ confidence in the European Union and ensure they have a say on policies affecting them. The way to do this is to reinforce both, the European Parliament’s role and Member States’ ownership of decisions taken within the EMU. We support a better cooperation between the European Parliament and national parliaments, we want a true partnership of parliaments in Europe.

As Ministers for Europe of social-democratic governments, we seek to achieve these objectives within the existing legal framework. However, no measure should be off-limits and therefore, we will consider all potential measures needed in order to complete the EMU in the medium and long term. Our vision is a union that is inclusive, promotes a strong social model, ensures economic sustainability, and influences lives of European citizens in a positive way.

Miroslav Lajčák, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign and European Affairs, Slovakia; Lubomir Zaorálek, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Czech Republic; Harlem Désir, Minister of State for European Affairs, France; Michael Roth, Minister of State for Europe, Germany; Sandro Gozi, State Secretary for European Affairs, Italy

Disclaimer

The views expressed in this opinion piece are the author's, not those of EUobserver.

Deepening Eurozone integration

A report on deepening eurozone integration is being prepared for June's EU summit. "Let’s focus on stability first," recommends the Czech Republic.

EU court says work journey can be working time

The European Court of Justice said that the journeys made by workers with no fixed place to work, at the beginning and end of the day are to be considered as working time.

Weber: Six proposals in wake of Spitzenkandidat process

I will not lament the decision-making process that resulted in a package deal on the new leadership in Europe. I respect this result, which was in accordance with the treaties and therefore not undemocratic, albeit unsatisfactory.

Time to pay attention to Belarus

Belarus may be hosting the European Games, but Vladimir Putin is not playing games when it comes to Belarus' independence. The West needs to get serious as well.

News in Brief

  1. Ansip's ex-cabinet chief to head EU cybersecurity agency
  2. Malta starts trial of journalist murder suspects
  3. Full text of von der Leyen candidacy speech to MEPs
  4. Von der Leyen open to further Brexit delay
  5. Von der Leyen promises carbon border tax
  6. Brexit: both UK PM candidates say Irish backstop is 'dead'
  7. Mogherini: Iran's nuclear enrichment 'reversible'
  8. Report: Selmayr to leave 'next week'

Six takeaways on digital disinformation at EU elections

For example, Germany's primetime TV news reported that 47 percent of political social media discussions were related to the extreme-right AfD party, when in fact this was the case only for Twitter - used by only four percent of Germans.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  5. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  7. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  8. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  9. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  10. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North

Latest News

  1. European Commission has first ever woman president
  2. Son: Malta trial for murdered journalist 'not enough'
  3. Von der Leyen's final appeal to secure top EU post
  4. EU talks tough on Turkey, but arms sales go on
  5. The Abortion Exodus - more Poles and Croats going abroad
  6. Poland's ex-PM loses EU parliament chair again
  7. Von der Leyen reaches out to left and liberal MEPs
  8. Farmers among new MEPs deciding on EU farming money

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  3. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  4. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  6. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan
  7. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  9. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID
  12. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us