There is a huge debate in Europe regarding the issue of fiscal integration, national sovereignty and how that may be affected by the principle of “no taxation without representation” which could lead us to two different scenarios: first, integration does not go further, EU even may give up some competencies, which seems clearly unlikely; second, the fiscal integration is finally done with the political integration required to guarantee the democratic legitimacy of EU institutions. There’s always a third option, which consist of keeping the fiscal integration with the current political structure but that wouldn’t fit in our democratic model and would damage even more the image that EU currently has.
For Gerhard Schröder, for example, is pretty clear what needs to be done: increasing the budgetary competencies of EU institutions giving a special committee within the European Parliament a say. It’s one option and would have some democratic back. It’s, at least, a concrete proposal, because one of the major problems these days is that we are hearing a lot about fiscal, even political, integration without specific measures or reforms mentioned. So, what do we really need and, the most important, what do we really want? Some talk about Eurobonds, others talk about a tax levied on financial transactions but what does it imply? Do we need a European Treasure? And would that solve the core problem? It wouldn’t. At this point it seems clear that what we need is a common economic and political policy but that means having a Federal government or some sort of federal or confederal structure to make decisions on those policies and to enforce them. On the paper, a reform wouldn’t be needed. Council could meet twice a year or even more often as Sarkozy suggested and take those decisions to be put in place by every national government but is it efficient? And what if a country doesn’t want to cooperate? Eventually we’ll need further European government and here is when the other question arises: do we want that? Do national politicians want that? I think they don’t, neither the people.
So we are in that precise moment when the circumstances are telling us that the only way out of this crisis is a deeper integration but we lack the political will and courage to act, which leads us, instead, to improvise solutions while ignoring the root of the problem, which is the lack of integration within the Eurozone to support the currency. It is clear that there’s a general mood in the media that tends to promote that integration, what hasn’t had an effect on national public opinions nor on politicians but there’s a significant change taking place now: USA and the BRICS are showing an increasing concern that this crisis may erase their growth or recovery. Unbelievably, this concern may make those countries to push EU leaders to do what they don’t have the courage to do: integrating the Eurozone even if political integration is then required.
Wall Street Journal, 14 September 2011
BBC News, 14 September 2011
The Guardian, 14 September 2011