Don’t spare countries breaking the rules – we need a better EU
Once again governments of the Eurozone-states didn’t live up to the agreements they previously reached with the EU-Commission on how to cut their deficits in 2015. In a violation of group solidarity they broke a promise which they reached with the citizens of the Eurozone. In 2015, Spain’s deficit amounted up to 5.1 percent, Portugal’s deficit came to 4.4 percent. It was 2007 when Spain last managed to get below the agreed limit of 3.0 per cent. Portugal never did since the start of the Euro in 1999.
The EU-Commission is supposed to be the guardian of the treaties. How did it react after receiving the biggest possible proof of distrust trough the event of Brexit? The Commission decided (driven by powerful ministers or not) to leave Portugal and Spain off the hook again. This is a scandal!
According to the Maastricht criteria the national budget deficit should not exceed 3 percent of its GDP. The rules of the EU entitle the Commission to sanction those countries not obeying the criteria. After having flexibilised the underlying Growth and Stability Pact during the Euro-Crises the EU Commission has even more leeway in decision-making. We now have the proof that the Commission softened the rules once again.
In result Spain and Portugal get another deadline once again. Even worse: Towards France the Commission turns a blind eye altogether – ‘because it is France’. Between 1999 and 2014 the EU-Commission witnessed 109 unauthorised breaches of the EU’s rules, among them the deficits of Germany and France.
There is no two ways about it: The EU-Commission under President Jean-Claude Juncker undermines the EU Maastricht criteria and in doing so harms the greater idea of the EU and its credibility among its citizens. When rules and contracts are not enforced and instead are not followed or only followed by a few, the feeling of arbitrariness arises. The EU-Commission does not do its job as referee and – even worse – reinterprets the rules of the game. This constant reinterpretation is not acceptable and costs credibility. Among EU citizens this has led to mistrust against the EU institutions and the people who are running them. This mistrust has led the EU into its structural crisis and is partly responsible for the UK’s Brexit vote.
In order for Europe to regain its status as a legal community, the EU needs reforms and a new vision. Some figures show that neither the Commission nor the rules are adequate to bring Europe’s economy back on track again. The EU should therefore formulate simple and stronger rules and make sure they are upheld. Thus, market-related penalties need to be imposed on countries where political wheeling hinders agreed sanctions. As an example, no Euro country would allow its structural budget deficit to exceed the 3 percent mark if its government securities automatically became less attractive to financial institutions as a consequence of this violation, e.g. because the banks would be forced by law to provide higher capital backing for government securities.
Regarding the second proviso – a new vision – the EU will need new people in charge. Politicians like the President of the EU-Commission Jean-Claude Juncker embody the old political system of rule breaching and arbitrariness. He should step back and make room for new people with visions to build a better EU. For us young people it is not acceptable that his ignorance and political wheeling destroy the future of the EU. The Commission’s sparing of Spain, Portugal and France exasperates the trust of the people into the EU. The Commission has not learned from its defeat of the Brexit vote. The young generation does not want a paralysed Europe to be dissected by protectionists and nationalists. Our generation will have to fight for an attractive Europe.
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