Cause and Effect in European Politics and Law

The EU Economic Governance: the Political Way Ahead

Ralitsa Kovacheva, November 25, 2011

When a year and a half ago euinside decided to focus its efforts on the reform of EU's economic governance, we did not even suspect what Europe would look like today, when the reform is already a fact but needs to be continued at an accelerated pace. A year and half ago we had on the table one country for saving - Greece, several proposals from the European Commission and many doubts whether they would materialise - after all, it was about ceding more powers to 'Brussels'. Because, even after the rescue of Greece, nobody suspected that it would be followed by Ireland and Portugal, and today we would talk about saving Italy and Spain and only in whispers - about the French credit rating.

euinside has followed literally the labours of the so-called "Six Pack" – six legislative proposals of the European Commission aimed at strengthening fiscal surveillance and coordination of economic policies in the EU. They went through long and painful negotiations between the European Parliament and the Council until a compromise was reached and a final approval by both institutions.

And in the meantime additional measures proved necessary because the eurozone shook in the core. The European Commission proposed an unprecedented regime of fiscal coordination between eurozone countries, where national budgets will be sent first to be approved in Brussels, and only then by national parliaments. And the countries, attacked by financial markets, will be virtually forced to seek bailout before becoming a danger for the whole euro area.

These changes clearly show that the future of the common currency and therefore the EU is towards greater fiscal cohesion, which some have called a fiscal union, while others are still resisting. And this goes together with a political union, long dreamt of by the European Federalists and considered the lesser evil by the pessimists, when compared to the final disintegration of the EU - either into two speeds, strong and weak euro, or North and South.

Europe has always been changing slowly, as politicians like to say - democracies require more time than markets grant them. In recent years Europe is changing at a speed unattainable for democracy. That is why many people blame "Brussels" of usurping sovereignty of the national authorities and thus is discrediting democracy, because we elect national governments and parliaments, but not the European officials. However, all are aware that if you need to apply painful measures it is much better these to be done by the anonymous "Brussels", so the negatives will not be suffered by national political parties - however, crisis or not, elections go on.

The paradox is that Europe has lost more time to admit the problems than to look for solutions. This can easily be seen if you watch the discussions organised by euinside in Brussels in June and October and in Sofia - in July. On 25 November in Sofia we will summarise the achievements so far and will try to look in the future.Did the urgent decisions, taken by the EU under pressure from the crisis, impact a long-term political vision or were rather a response to the circumstances? Did Europe predetermine its future, trying to save its present? Where is Bulgaria's place in the European existential anxiety and what can the EU learn from one of its newest but most experienced members, when it comes to changes and transition? Can Bulgaria win a more prestigious place in the EU, actively participating in the development of its own future vision?

If you ask yourself the same questions you are welcome to our round table on November 25, 15H, Crystal Palace Hotel, Sofia. Because the EU has a future only if citizens participate in the conversation what this future has to be.