FEPS Fresh Thinking

Recently, in a German magazine, I published an analysis which questioned if Brussels wants Europe. Of course, this was a rhetorical question but nevertheless a valuable one regarding the current situation in the final phase of negotiations about the 2014-2020 multiannual financial framework this autumn. We see clearly that national egotisms are not at all left aside.

For example, the French agricultural minister stipulated in a recent declaration that the next financial framework should allocate at least 40% to the Common Agricultural Policy – meaning, of course, that France wants no problems with the agricultural industry on the home front and the CAP is seen as a “national” instrument of the EU for the French agricultural sector. I am deliberately not using the term “farmer” in this context. The CAP is by no means a policy which stimulates small scale environmentally friendly green farming.

Another example is the declaration by the British Prime Minister David Cameron this week that the EU budget should be split in two, with one for the Euro zone and one for the non-Euro zone!

Every budget is the expression of a common economic and financial policy, which is based on the basic values agreed and the common policy to implement. Therefore, the 2014-2020 financial framework is a means to an end!

Furthermore, we should go further now in our European efforts towards effective European coordination of economic and finance policy. The budget could be a starting point of a real discussion of a stronger degree of federalism.

Unfortunately the euro has not become the symbol of European integration but has regrettably only stayed as a tool. In the first decade of its existence it has been a convenient currency and accounting unit. It is proven that Europe is not as loyal to the euro nowadays as, for example, the Germans were to the Deutschmark!

This is also a reason why European politics has lost its function as a medium to explain needs and the challenges to the European citizen. The legitimacy of politicians is being challenged. All of this is fertile ground for growing neo-populism.

Europe has to challenge the Brussels administration concerning the long-term European goal. Admittedly people always pointed to the common European heritage and the accompanying common future but a genuinely European solution to the euro crisis as a precondition for this has not been mapped out. But repeatedly the proposals for solutions are based on national approaches instead of genuine European strategies.

The neglecting of European solidarity is also one of the major causes of the euro crisis. Over 25 million unemployed in the EU and over 50% youth unemployment in Spain should not just be alarming figures for people in the Brussels administration. They must be a spur to do everything in their power to find a new European consensus based on a new understanding of solidarity, social justice and wellbeing.
Budget cuts for the multiannual framework will be counterproductive.

If the majority of EU Member States want cuts for Europe they do not want to recognise the need for a more federal European structure which is capable of facing our globalised world.

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