Let's talk about Europe

Which economic and political future for the Eurozone?

A banner featuring a Euro coin is seen on the European Commission headquarters building in BrusselsWhich political and economic integration for the Eurozone? This is a question discussed by some participants on the last 25th of May to a colloquium organized by Fondation Jean-Jaurès (a think-think close to the French Socialist Party) and the Foundation for European Progressive Studies (FEPS, a think-tank close to the Party of European Socialists, PES) in Paris.

During a day and two conference-debates, French and European political executives and leaders, analysts and economists dealt with the future of the single currency, in a context dominated by a important citizens’ distrust vis-à-vis the European integration and at a moment Europeans are more and more critical about the European Union. According to Massimo d’Alema, former social-democratic president of the Italian Council and current FEPS president, for instance, the Eurozone crisis is also politic due to the choices made by the Member States during the Maastricht Treaty negotiations but also the incapacity of these Member-States to adopt a clear strategy. Jean Pisani-Ferry, French economist and former Bruegel think-tank president, shared and developed considering there was a disagreement on the way the crisis is perceived in Europe, wherever you are in Germany, in the Netherlands or in Italy and in Spain. These contradictory perceptions and analysis have a major consequence on the EU and Member-States strategy face to the Eurozone crisis but also social consequences within national populations, strengthening the distrust vis-à-vis the single currency and the European integration.

Nonetheless, there exist ideas for a way out of the crisis, most of participants insisting on a deeper and more voluntary political integration. For Philip Arestis, Economics teacher at University of Cambridge, political integration is even a needed condition (not to say essential) the monetary union the Euro is to be a success and enjoyable for the citizens. For Martin Schulz, socialist chairman of the European Parliament, the way out of crisis is at the European stage and not national, which also supposes a political integration. This integration might be a kind of New Deal, as Ricardo Bellofiore, Italian economist, said, based on growth and employment. At this occasion, Pervenche Berès, French MEP, reminded some initiatives as the European youth guarantee, currently implemented in some UE Member-States but still not by the EU because of the absence of EU financings, in spite of the emergency of the situation vis-à-vis youth employment.

The 2014 European elections should be the occasion for European socialist and social-democrats to have a real and deep debate about the crisis and the strategy to lead with by extension the future of the Eurozone and the future of the European integration. Indeed, a better European integration goes by a better functioning of the EU institutions for Pierre Moscovici, French Economics and Finances minister, prelude to the implementation of a Eurozone economic government, but also a reinforcement of the EU method according to Martin Schulz and a better institutional balance for the European Parliament, according to Gaétane Ricard-Nihoul, former Notre Europe – Jacques Delors Institute Secretary General, now member of the Permanent representation of the European Commission in France.

In other words, the Eurozone current situation is now a political issue and a major theme of campaign for the 2014 European elections the PES wants to politicise to be better heard and make the difference. A subtle way for the European socialists to expose their point of view and insist on the conservatives and liberals judged as responsible for the aggravation of the crisis due to their political choices within the EU and some Member-States. The question is to know if this strategy will be effective, which suppose to put the citizen at the heart of the game again.