While it remains the most relevant level to act in many areas, Europe does not live up to its promise. This is the message that we, young professionals – originating from various European countries and active in European affairs – wish to convey through a series of proposals that we deem essential to restore the very meaning of the European project. Another way is possible and, contrary to a widespread opinion, the debate exists within the European “machinery”. So does the desire for change.
The euro has created major expectations. Opinion polls show that it has become the cornerstone of European identity in those countries which have adopted it. And yet, it is clear that the European decision-making process is no longer in line with those expectations. It too often resembles international diplomatic negotiations rather than being democratic and legitimate.
A vicious circle thus appeared between an “executive deficit” which impedes Europe to act and a “democratic deficit” that produces every day more rejection and more tension. We sense that European integration runs the risk of not being supported anymore by the peoples, which are becoming impoverished and tempted by national if not outright nationalist retrenchment. Hundred years after the atrocities of the Great War, this would be a terrible waste. The European social contract must be thought through again. It needs to be put on par with the political choice of the euro, thereby making the responsibility and the solidarity that this ambitious project implies more concrete.
Europe needs an ambitious and clear political project.
Extending and deepening the works of the German group Glienicker and of the French group Eiffel, we bring proposals to the attention of citizens as well as national and European policy-makers. We have made the deliberate choice of listing up fifty proposals, because we believe that political statements now need to be backed by concrete proposals. We believe that a treaty change is inevitable because some institutions and policies need to be reformed in depth. But – by all means – not everything depends on this change, and we can start making progress today, without a treaty change.
For us, Europe currently suffers from the in-between in which it is held: two competing visions co-exist. There are those who see Europe as a great market and those for whom Europe is above all a political project of which the euro is the most powerful symbol. A clarification thus becomes necessary.
To those intellectuals who preach for a euro exit as a solution to safeguard European nations, we strongly reply that it is rather a Union of the Euro which can preserve the European sovereignty. But this project requires the mobilisation of institutional, economic and political means. That this choice exists and must become a political proposal is our core message and the spirit which underpins our initiative.
That this choice exists and must become a political proposal is our core message and the spirit which underpins our initiative.
The European Commission must become the genuine executive power of the EU. Its decisions would be democratically controlled and adopted by two legislative chambers: a European Parliament with enhanced competences and a Council of the EU representing national governments in a European upper house. The President of the Commission would thus become head of the European government, while the European Council President would become the President of the EU playing the role of a moral authority and guarantor of the common values. The Union of the euro would be organised around a Finance Minister, around a dedicated committee within the European Parliament and around a key principle: to a European decision must correspond a European democratic control.
Moreover, the Union of the Euro shall be able to stabilise its economy and invest in its future through a common growth framework. We first propose to create a European Monetary Fund, accountable in front of the two chambers and which would cumulate the current competences of the European Solidarity Mechanism and the Troika. Second, a single and common eurozone financial asset could be created to facilitate the action of the European Central Bank. Third, the creation of a budget of the Union of the Euro - financed through own resources and a direct borrowing capacity on markets - would fund a capacity for joint investment. Additionally, we advocate the adoption by the Council of guidelines asking the ECB to neutralise the interventions on the exchange rates by central banks from third countries which aim at artificially depreciating their currencies against the euro.
It is also high time to put the solidarity between the peoples at the heart of the European project. We notably call for the creation of a European work contract, as a 29th system next to the 28 existing national set of contracts. The portability of social rights and above all, a European unemployment insurance, would be part of this contract. The latter would be proposed in all participating Member States, following a negotiation between European social partners which would identify common flexi-security elements, with remaining elements left to the discretion of national or local negotiations.
Finally, we wish to move forward on those sensitive issues that scratch the core of national sovereignty but which equally require an intervention at European level now. Just to name a few, we propose: the creation of a financial European Public Prosecutor to fight against fraud, financial crimes and corruption, to progress towards a tax union (European Corporate tax, European tax number, automatic exchange of data, measures against unfair tax optimisation) and the creation of a Europe of Energy that recent events have made even more necessary.
These are just some of our proposals.
Some will dismiss them on the grounds of political reality: at a time when Europe is not seen as a winning choice for elections, many indeed consider any major progress as impossible. We do not deny the political difficulties that such choices involve. However, the debate on the future of Europe must be launched and candidates for the highest offices at the European level must take clear positions.
The European campaign that unfolds is an opportunity to make Europe progress. Let us not miss it out!