martes, 6 de septiembre de 2011

Eurozone economic government

The Commission or a European finance minister will have to retain the right of initiative, but the control mechanisms will have to be democratized. National parliaments cannot be expected to accept a loss of sovereignty on budgetary matters without parliamentary control mechanisms being implemented elsewhere. The decisions reached by the national parliaments must end up in the European Parliament, as the ultimate authority. A possible approach would be for the parliament to form a special committee, which would consist of the members of the euro zone and assume this control function. The transfer of such parliamentary rights to any expert committees would pose a serious risk, because it would be associated with the curtailment of democracy.

If you look at the economic data, Germany, as an exporting and industrialized nation, has benefited immensely from the euro. That's just the way it is. We will have to explain to people the benefits we have derived from the euro, economically, socially and politically. We will have to explain that in a common currency zone, you accept a joint responsibility for this currency and relinquish sovereignty rights.

The decision on the concrete configuration of the economic government can only be made by members in the euro zone, and not by the Council (the powerful EU institution comprised of European national leaders) as a whole.

It's not a very good time for Europe and when it comes to talk about EU integration, I'm afraid very few speak as clear as the former German Chancellor: Gerhard Schröder. After the last French-German summit in mid-August, Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy supported the implementation of an European economic government and, somehow, this is what has been done since the first signs of the Greek debt crisis came to sight. Forced by the financial markets turmoil, European governments have been making tough decisions in Brussels, with surprising effects such as seeing Spanish PM applying the opposite economic policy he had been preaching all his previous years in office.

For a Spanish citizen, not to say for citizens in Greece, Ireland or Portugal, the government is clearly applying European policies, following the dictates of the Council, which is pretty much following Merkel and Sarkozy dictates. Of course, this increases the impression that many already had that democracy have been taken over by a sort of markets' dictatorship put in place from EU institutions. And some of those concerns are justified: for other politicians, not ours, seems to govern our country (Spain). This concern is very well expressed by the former German chancellor, Gerhard Schröder, in the interview quoted above. He gives some ideas of what could be some sort of control by a euro-zone Parliament Committee but the key idea, which is be ruled by our own representatives is still missing. I wouldn't say that a Council of Head of State and Government is representative enough to approve fiscal policies, including substantial amendments or a mere approval of national budgets. A control by EU parliament should be only one of the guarantees that we should be given as citizens of free countries. Not to say that we still should claim the right to elect the European or euro-zone government to be in charge of this unitary fiscal policy if that is to come.

Far from that, I'm afraid the European model will be more powers for the Council and the permanent President, who is a mere bureaucrat appointed we don't know how. As long as they don't require national parliaments to give up their formal competences on fiscal policy and the member states cooperate, this could work. But the point is whether we want national puppets to enforce alien policies or a common euro-zone government elected by the people able to make decisions quicker and more effectively with a democratic support. A common fiscal policy seems inevitable so far. How are we going to implement that, what tools will it have and who will be in charge are the questions.

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