Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Europe must change after the crisis

Yesterday, in his speech at Versailles, once a symbol of the monarchy, N.Sarkozy said "The crisis is not over. We don't know when it will end...."Thinking of the crisis as brackets that will soon be closed ... would be a fatal mistake. Nothing will be the same ever again. A crisis of this magnitude always calls for profound questioning. We cannot witness such a catastrophe without questioning the ideas, the values, the decisions that led to such a result". He went on saying: "Europe must change too. It will not be able to function after the crisis as it did before ... Europe must give itself the means to participate in the transformation of the world".

Nothing will be the same anymore. G.Bush said also that after 9.11 and his father after the Gulf war when he spoke about a new world order. I think Sarkozy is perfectly right, but some statements are too general. What does this mean concretely, in particular for Europe? I could not find one concrete proposal, apart from a borrowing initiative which reminds what many French finance ministers did in the past, from Pinay to Balladur.

Conversely, the former Belgian PM Verhofstadt* made a series of concrete proposals in his recent book. Europe is part of the solution, not the problem. Instead, it is not with a mere collection of 27 stimulus plans that we will find the way out of the crisis. The European Commission can steer this process through a set of coordinated actions and achieve better complementarity and synergies between member States policies as well as with EU policies in some key areas such as regional development, research and climate change.

We need to work all together for the common good, which means that it is in the interest of everyone to find ways to get out from the mess. But will is not enough, we should have the right ambition and the necessary means to achieve that.

*Sortir de crise : Comment l'Europe peut sauver le monde, Actes Sud/André Versaille Éditeur, coll. « Essais Sciences humaines », Arles/Bruxelles, 2009, 252 p.

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