Blair, Delors, Schroeder: Europe's union is the solution, not the problem
Europe is at a crossroads. Our preoccupation with the fiscal crisis comes at the expense of the broader EU agenda. We must unite to engage citizens and address the pressing issues of foreign policy, energy, immigration, growth and employment, and other ignored priorities.
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Furthermore, a common European debt facility, Eurobonds, should be developed. Eurobonds need effective control mechanisms to avoid systematically large fiscal deficits. The existing stability and growth pact has proven insufficient. To ensure fiscal discipline that protects the public from irresponsible policies on the part of any government, the eurozone requires an effective and enforceable control system. While standards must be strict, the diversity of conditions across the eurozone requires flexibility in how those standards are met.Skip to next paragraph
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Orderly debt resolution
Mechanisms for orderly debt resolution must be established for both public and private liabilities if lasting and unmanageable insolvencies arise.
In pursuing the necessary fiscal austerity and structural reforms to restore growth in the medium and long run, we must be careful not to undermine the present fragile recovery in the short-run. Adequate macro-economic policies must be employed to avoid this.
Growth and employment
Austerity is necessary but not sufficient. To compete in the globalized world, Europe needs to implement an ambitious “Agenda for Growth and Employment” to boost competitiveness.
A growth strategy should include efficient use of existing EU funds to stimulate growth and job creation in the periphery as well as programs to enhance research and development, professional skills, and higher education. So far, Europe has fallen far short of the goals set out in the Lisbon Agenda. Absent such a strategy, the temptation for economic nationalism will arise.
One of Europe's key challenges will be an ongoing readjustment of the social compact in order to both recognize new realities and preserve this key pillar of the European social model. Social security systems must be prepared to accommodate the impact of an aging population.
Europe as a key global player
The relevance and geopolitical strength of Europe is directly correlated with the strength of the European Union. Without a strong and integrated Union, European countries face the prospect of ever-decreasing geopolitical influence. It will be necessary to further lay out a vision of a Federation that goes beyond a fiscal and economic mandate to include a common security, energy, climate, immigration, and foreign policy, as well as develop a common narrative about the future of the union and its place in the world. This is a challenge for all the 27 nations of the European Union.
These steps toward further integration can only go hand in hand, step by step, with a broad and deep engagement of the public. The process of further integration must be led by a Parliament, a Commission and a Council that has the active support of European citizens. European citizens will become more engaged through democratic processes when the Parliament is further empowered.
The current crisis is a matter of the utmost urgency but at the same time an opportunity. Now European citizens expect their leaders to move from a day-to-day crisis management to taking charge and preparing the European Union for the challenges of the 21st century. Supporting European integration is not a matter of solidarity but of enlightened self-interest. It is time to address the big questions in order to preserve the unique European balance of individual freedoms, market economy, and systems of social protection.
For us, more European integration, not less, is the only solution.
© 2011 Global Viewpoint Network/Nicolas Berggruen Institute. Hosted online by The Christian Science Monitor.