The EPW brings together parliamentarians from all over the European Union to discuss economic, budgetary and social matters. The purpose of this event is to enhance the democratic dimension of the EU decision-making process and to strengthen cooperation between national Parliaments and the European Parliament, within their own responsibilities, in order to scrutinise the actions of the executive at national and European levels.
President Barroso said: "If political uncertainty was our worst enemy during the crisis, we could only really leave it behind if we sent political assurances that we would fundamentally update our system and – step by step - construct a Deep and Genuine Economic and Monetary Union. This is very important because sometimes some analysts tend to say that it was because of one or two decisions alone. This is not true. I can tell you based on experience. When we were discussing these matters with our partners from the United States, Russia, China or Japan, the real question they were asking us was not just about the deficit of that country or what the ECB was going to do. It was about our commitment to have a real economic and monetary union.
It was at the end a political issue. And so all the steps taken forward, for instance the very important steps taken by the European Central Bank, were possible only because there was a way forward to establish a deep and genuine economic union, because the Member States have shown commitment in terms of debt, deficit reduction and structural reforms. And because we started, basically following what it was agreed in the so called Four Presidents' report – the report presented by the President of the European Council, together with myself, the President of the Eurogroup and the President of the European Central Bank -, and also the Blueprint of the European Commission, the market started to believe: 'they are going to do it. They are going to change the way they have been doing things in Europe'. Because some time ago, we were the sick man of the world, in the G20 and so forth. And when we took all those decisions people started to believe it: 'they are going to correct some of these imbalances'.
This is why it's so important to conclude now the Banking Union, and we cannot say the Banking Union is concluded before we have the Single Resolution Mechanism. That's why I'm appealing to the Council and to Parliament to really make an effort for a compromise to have the agreement before the European elections. And I think both parties have to move, I think it's not acceptable to say: 'we are not going to move at all'. Both parties have to move and I hope the Greek Presidency is supporting, and the European Commission is supporting the Greek Presidency to get that agreement as soon as possible.
We also need to improve our accountability and legitimacy. I've said this to you before: on a multilevel system like Europe, accountability should be ensured at that level where decisions are taken, while it's taking into account other levels where some of the impact will be felt. So we need a better coordination – this is my personal opinion - between the European Parliament and the national parliaments. At the same time we, European Commission, that are accountable to the European Parliament, are ready to work with the national parliaments, in the limits, of course, of our capacity.
We have been doing that, for instance, with a new system we have. Last November the we published, for the first time, opinions on draft budgetary plans. Surveillance is now more timely, and politically it has brought the European and the national level even closer together.
When we think about this, dear colleagues, let's think: some years ago, if people would ask if it is going to be possible for the European Commission to have an opinion on the draft budget at national level, most people would have said it's impossible. That would not be thinkable. Now, because of the crisis, it was agreed unanimously by the Member States that this kind of work has to be done.
And it goes without saying that we are willing to engage with the national parliaments. I want to underline that national parliaments retain their full rights in the national budgetary processes. The Commission does not have a veto, does not have the right to change the draft national budgets. But we can discuss this together. And this is important because it's the way that we can deepen this sense of economic governance at European level.
So I believe, based on experience, that now we are doing better the work of the European Semester, but we really need a kind of ownership, because so far some matters haven been only for some political elites and some experts. We don't have yet the idea, at democratic level, of a real ownership, that we are in this together. That when we discuss our budget we need to consult our partners and that we can and should work in this ownership at all levels, between the national and European level.
It is important that the European context in recognised and that in the way countries are run there is also an acknowledgment of the impact of national decisions across their borders. This is the philosophy that underlies this Parliamentary Week, and it is also why the Commission is eager to follow it up with increased cooperation both with the European and with national parliaments.
I believe we can say that now we are rising above the technical. We are moving beyond the institutional. Now, let us deepen a truly political debate about the European Union we want to work towards. And, as I said before several times in the European Parliament - I'm happy to discuss this with all of your members of national parliaments -, I believe the European Union now is in a moment where we cannot go on pretending it's only technocratic or bureaucratic. More than ever, we need a European Union that is fully democratic."
Further speeches at the EPW:
President Van Rompuy
Deputy Secretary-General and Chief Economist of the OECD Pier Carlo Padoan
Member of the Spanish Congress of Deputies Vicente Martinez-Pujalte (Spanish)
© European Commission
Hover over the blue highlighted
text to view the acronym meaning
over these icons for more information
No Comments for this Article