Open Letter to the Presidents of the European Commission, the European Parliament, the European Council, the European Central Bank and the Eurogroup
At the next June European Council you will present a crucial Report on the reform of the Economic and Monetary Union that will set the political agenda of European integration for the current legislature. You can build on the successful experience of European integration, whose core is a peaceful pooling and sharing of sovereignty through democratic supranational institutions. You shall move from the lessons learnt from the crisis: we cannot live in a single market with a single currency, but with 19 economic and fiscal policies. The recognition of the long-term unsustainability of this asymmetry brought your predecessors to set for the Union the goals of the banking, fiscal, economic and political unions in the December 2012 Report Towards a Genuine Economic and Monetary Union.
European citizens expect from you a clear and ambitious vision for the future of Europe with a clear roadmap and timetable to reach those unions and get a more effective and democratic EU. The effective action of the ECB has eased market pressure and the EMU looks like a lost child nobody wants to care about. Since 2012 significant progress has been made only on the banking union, because of the lack of political will by the Member states. But the crisis can worsen again without progress on the other unions. The emergency instruments, such as the ESM, should be brought back into the EU legal framework and turned into a European Monetary Fund managed by a Vice-president of the Commission who should also be President of the Eurogroup, and be in charge of a fiscal and borrowing capacity based on own resources – at least for the Eurozone – under the effective democratic control by the European Parliament. This is essential to have a European economic policy as well as investments to restore growth and move from solidarity among states towards solidarity among citizens.
The crisis has shown the ineffectiveness of mere coordination of national economic and fiscal policies and the paralysis produced by unanimity. Member states have now more budget constraints than in fully-fledged federal systems, without benefitting from a federal budget and federal policies. So Europe is muddling through the crisis. The completion of the banking, fiscal, economic and political unions are necessary to put the Union on the path of a stable and sustainable economic and social prosperity. Differentiated integration can accommodate the deepening of the Eurozone with the desire by some Member states to reduce their integration, without giving them a veto power over the needs of other European citizens.
Since 2008 the structural shift of the American strategic focus to the Pacific has created a power vacuum which fosters instability all around Europe from the East to the South. Europe must turn from a consumer to a producer of security. Only continent-wide states – such as the US, China, India, Russia, Brazil - matter in the global world. The EU must proceed towards political union aiming at a single foreign, security and defence policy to stabilize its neighbourhood and cope with the current geopolitical threats and challenges. The start of a permanent structured cooperation on defence is a matter of political will, not of resources, as the Euro-Plus countries combined have the second largest world military expenditure.
President Draghi’s “whatever it takes” has been crucial at the height of the crisis. Your Report should be the political “whatever it takes” by all EU institutions. It should set a clear roadmap and timetable to complete the banking union and to reach the fiscal, economic and political unions by the end of the European legislature. If this requires Treaty change, so be it.
Citizens need a vision and a way forward to a Europe based on democracy, solidarity and subsidiarity. Nothing else can win back their trust towards the Union. The alternative is the spread of the social perception of an inevitable and irreversible decline, which fosters the rise of populism, nationalism and xenophobia. Leadership implies responsibility towards the citizens of today and tomorrow. Europeans count on your leadership, responsibility and vision to bring them and their Union out of the crisis.