Business community wants deeper political integration
By Ophélie Spanneut | Tuesday 26 June 2012
“This is a moment of truth. The time of business as usual is absolutely over because our businesses are in danger, our jobs are in danger, our level of living is in danger. We have to face the truth.” These were the words of the President of Medef (Mouvement des enterprises de France), Laurence Parisot, to the press, which had been invited, on 26 June, on the initiative of BusinessEurope, the European federation of enterprises.
Two days ahead of the European Council, the organisation called on European leaders to restore confidence by making investment and competitiveness the focus of policies. Above and beyond employers’ call for growth policies to help Europe to overcome the crisis, they are calling – echoing Parisot – for “a political leap towards a more integrated Europe”. Parisot considers that federalism is no longer taboo and that the United States of Europe is not a utopia. Rather, it is a “civilisation ambition”.
BusinessEurope wants to consider the possibility of the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) to loan directly to the financial institutions. The association is calling for a tighter fiscal integration of the eurozone in the long term. Eurobonds, as well as a transfer of national budget competence to Europe, should also be considered. Medef is also proposing an in-depth reform of the Commission to create a portfolio for ‘commissioner for economy and finance’, who would answer to the European Parliament.
In her book, ‘Besoin d’aire’, published in February, Parisot said that the “winning scenario for the future is one of a much more integrated European governance. Everything that has not been ‘federalised’ has stagnated or failed”.
She is backed by an Ifop Fiducial opinion poll, published on 23 June, which reveals that nearly three-quarters of French, Spanish and Italian respondents (and 61% of German respondents) do not want to go back to national currencies. Parisot is convinced that the public opinion is more pro-European than what we are led to believe. She is therefore asking for a debate on the type of political union European citizens want.
The President of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC), Staffan Nilsson, is also calling for further integration. “This is the final round for the euro and European integration. Either the eurozone – with Europe in its wake – will make the quantum leap in integration or it will break apart,” he said. He is calling for a reform of the political architecture of Europe and of eurobonds.
As for SMEs, the European Association of Craft, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (UEAPME) has sent a letter to the presidents of the Commission, the European Council and the Council of Ministers asking them to establish a pact for growth, based on a strong commitment from the member states. In a similar missive, Valeria Ronzitti, general secretary of the European Centre of Employers and Enterprises providing Public Services (CEEP), calls for the immediate launch of the pilot phase of project bonds for physical and social infrastructures (health, education, social services).