The EU needs to send out a positive message

Article published on March 11, 2011
Article published on March 11, 2011
By Desiree Ketabchi Today the heads of state of the eurozone countries are meeting in Brussels to discuss a way out of the crisis. This informal meeting has been set as a preparation for the European Council of the 24th and 25th March.
On the agenda, the ‘Competitiveness Pact’ presented by France and Germany and recently endorsed by the European Commission in a watered-down version and the future of the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF).

Photo Flickr/Art La Flamme

The ‘Competitiveness Pact’ generates criticism among Member States

The discussion today in Brussels will focus on the ‘Competitiveness Pact’ presented by Sarkozy and Merkel during last European Council on February 4. The pact has already faced strong criticism by some of the Member States for being prepared and presented by only two countries, instead of being discussed by all 27 Member States. Countries didn’t appreciate being excluded by the decision-making process. Criticism has been raised even by Sweden, which is not part of the eurozone, and which questioned the need for the eurozone countries’ heads of state to meet separately. In a period when more integration is needed, separate meetings are not well perceived by the EU countries.

Member States have expressed their scepticism also towards the content of the ‘Competitiveness Pact’, which has been perceived as an extremely conservative paper. Calling for more integration at the EU level, Germany asked the other countries to change their constitutions to limit governments’ borrowings. Moreover, the Pact calls for wages and public service spending cuts and abolition of inflation-indexed wages. These unpopular measures are meant to boost European competitiveness. The need for closer integration meets a wide consensus, but right-wing and left-wing leaders don’t agree on the way of reaching it. While the conservatives are presenting an austerity way out of the crisis, the right-wing leaders outline the importance of creating new jobs to boost the economy, as well as finding new sources of revenue such as Eurobonds.

This is a crucial moment for the European Union. Member States as well as citizens need to receive positive messages from the European Union, instead of wages and social benefits cuts and punishment for countries facing crisis.