Cause and Effect in European Politics and Law

EU's economic governance - a discussion of euinside in the European Parliament

Ralitsa Kovacheva, June 23, 2011

The adoption of the economic governance package should happen quickly but not at all cost, members of the European Parliament commented during a discussion, organised by euinside in the European Parliament in Brussels. In the conversation took part Ms Danuta Huebner (EPP, Poland), Ms Pervenche Beres (Socialists&Democrats, France) and Olle Schmidt (ALDE, Sweden). The representative of the group of the Greens Sven Giegold did not manage to take part but euinside spoke to him on the next day, so you will be able to see the Green's position too on the debated issues.

Although planned precisely according to Parliament's agenda, our discussion coincided with a crucial moment of the negotiations between Parliament and the Council on the 6 proposals pack, aimed at enhancing the economic governance of the EU. Literally hours before its beginning it became clear that the Parliament does not accept the compromise, proposed by the Council, so the proposals were approved only politically and the real, legislative adoption was postponed for July. Thus, in fact will be ensured another month for negotiations between the Parliament and the Council on the most controversial issue - the voting with reverse qualified majority in the Council and the areas to which it will be applied.

The rule for reversed qualified majority means that the Commission's decisions for the sanctions on the member states, when they do not comply with the rules, to enter into force automatically, unless they are rejected by a qualified majority in the Council. The Parliament, however, insists the rule to be applied to the Commission's recommendations to the member states, which the Council is not ready to agree with. On top of it, the Parliament itself is divided because, if for the Groups of the EPP and ALDE the issue of qualified majority is crucial, the socialists put on the first place the austerity measures, which they say deprive countries from investments.

This dividing line has been defined very clearly in euinside's discussion. Another, of course, hot topic was Greece and EU's attempts to rescue the country for a consecutive time. Ms Huebner and Ms Beres did not agree with Olle Schmidt's position, according to which there was no way to tell the Swedish taxpayer why he should pay for Greece, since the Greeks themselves protest and refuse to pay. On the contrary, everybody pays in the European budget, disagreed Ms Huebner. She added that if time ago the EU had the mechanisms now envisaged in the package for the economic governance - for surveillance of fiscal and economic policies and for early detection of macro economic imbalances, the EU would have reacted more adequately to the situation in Greece. Ms Pervenche Beres, who is also a rapporteur of the special parliamentary committee for the crisis, recalled that it was France and Germany that first violated the Stability and Growth Pact and that the E in the Economic and Monetary Union was ignored. It is impossible with criteria like 3% deficit of GDP and 60% debt to outline the economic policies of the member states, Ms Beres commented.

The discussion was animated and dynamic, the MEPs invested a huge dose of humour, in spite of the seriousness of the issues. They tried to explain things simply, even when they were forced to use the Brussels speak. And they were very interested whether these issues were interesting for the people and whether this was not too complex and distant for them.

This is why euinside's team for a year now is writing in details on the issue and is trying to translate it from the "Brussels speak", because first of all it has to be understood and debated by the national politicians and experts, the people tasked to take decisions on national level, responding to the European policies and according to the new rules. The holding of this conversation from Brussels to the national capitals and vice versa is crucial because obviously the gathering of national leaders and ministers in the framework of the councils is not enough to achieve full understanding and coordination. And most of all - thinking in the same direction, so that the national and the European do not compete with each other but to add up.

How do the MEPs see their role in this process as democratically elected representatives of the European citizens, as well as the positions of the main political forces in the European Parliament.