Marc Luyckx Ghisi was a member of the prestigious Forward Studies Unit of the European Commission from 1990-1999. The unit was created by Jacques Delors, Commission president from 1985 to 1994, to foster a long-term view of Europe.
He spoke to EurActiv Slovakia Chief Editor Zuzana Gabrizova.
Your message is that the European Union represents a new paradigm in politics and in economics. Can you explain in what aspects?
The first evidence is in the Treaties. The EU is the first success in the world in established by Treaties, a policy of permanent non-violence between member states. In 1950, what [Jean] Monnet, Robert Schuman, [Alcide] De Gasperi and [Paul-Henri] Spaak wanted was to make war impossible between France and Germany. Now, without knowing it, they have introduced a new political paradigm in the world. Like a few centuries ago, we have introduced the rule of law, which was a big jump in non-violence inside the state.
Now we have introduced non-violence between the states. It means that the EU is obliged, and it does it in silence, to craft and imagine new tools of non-violent foreign policy. Javier Solana has done wonderful work in that direction. I am not sure that for the moment EU foreign policy is as creative.
The European leaders, as well as the national leaders, are obviously having a hard time selling the European project to the public. The story of securing peace on the continent is apparently not appealing anymore and the eurozone crisis isn´t helping in coming up with a new story. What would be your advice to them?
There is excellent second good news. Let me tell you a story. When [Antonio] Gutiérrez proposed the [EU] Lisbon Strategy in March 2000, the first paragraph said: “This strategy is a new economic paradigm in Europe.” The heads of state said - we sign the Lisbon strategy but cancel the first paragraph. If you read the conclusions of the Council of Lisbon, that first paragraph was changed. The secret good news is that the Lisbon strategy is a post-capitalist, post-industrial new economic paradigm. This is the best-kept secret in Europe and in the world.
You should read the book of Maria João Rodrigues, the professor of economy and the thinker behind the Lisbon strategy. She explains that this knowledge society and knowledge economy is a new economic paradigm. And the excellent news is that this new logic is human-centered!
Is the Europe 2020 strategy a decent follow-up in your view?
They are trying to go towards this knowledge society, but with the wrong vision. It means they put the new wine in the old industrial bottles. The danger is the same as with the Lisbon strategy, the danger is failure because the vision is not correct.
For me this is a mystery. Since 20 years we speak about the knowledge economy, since the report of White Paper of the Commission in 1994. Did you hear in 20 years' time a head of state ... speaking about finding new jobs in the knowledge society? Nothing, there is a strange situation, where we are in possession of a new paradigm and we seem unable to see it. It is very strange.
What are the parameters of the information/knowledge society that you are referring to? Because, the truth is that we hear references to knowledge society in public discourse from time to time, politicians in Slovakia do refer to it in their somehow vague political manifestos.
The first thing is that the tool of production is not the same. The tool of production in agriculture is the field; the tool of production in the industry is the factory. The tool of production in the knowledge society is the human who creates, because in knowledge society you apply knowledge to knowledge to create knowledge. This is the new value creation process. It is another world. It means that the tool of production - being the human - goes back home every day, you cannot own the tool of production anymore. This new economic paradigm is human-centred and sustainable.
That is the reason why we speak of human capital. Évidemment. That is the reason why we speak about human resources, because it is the new tool of production, but nobody sees it. I agree with the sociologist Karl Marx. When you change the tool of production, you change the Weltanschauung, the vision of the world. That is exactly what has not been accepted by the heads of states and the ministers of economy and finance in 1994, in 2000 and is still today.
Today’s situation in the EU is rather unorthodox; we are dealing with the economic and financial crisis on everyday basis. What effect do you believe it will have on the perception of this new paradigm? Will the crisis act as a catalyst, or will the change of mindset be rather belated?
Yes, the crisis will be a strong catalyst of shift of civilization. But let me add another element. The European debt is 10. American debt is about 10,000 in proportion. The UK debt is huge as well. Japanese is big as well.
Europe has been the first to do austerity measures. We have not applied the Icelandic model, which would have been a very good idea, but it was politically probably impossible. We are finally more or less stabilising the euro, but we could have done it much quicker in having a bit more solidarity. If Jacques Delors would have been president of the Commission now, we would have solved the problem of European debt in, I think, two meetings.
By doing what?
Because Delors would have said: Solidarité messieurs. We helped Germany 20 years ago, with billions for reunification. Now we together help the Greeks. We extend the network of solidarity and we create eurobonds immediately and the Greeks can lend money at 1 %. C'est fini. Everybody knows that. Two ex-advisors of Delors have written an article in Le Monde saying exactly this. I am not inventing anything.
We are on the verge to fix slowly the eurozone problems. What we know and what they begin to say in the Commission is that probably the British and the Americans attacked the euro from 2010 to 2012 every week through the press. But now that this strategy has failed, the cameras will slowly turn to the dollar, which is a situation that is in my opinion hopeless.
Worst of the worst is that the Republicans are trying to force [President] Obama to default. If that happens, that would represent a big world crisis.
What would defaulting on the dollar mean for Europe?
Not very much. We are protected, but as for the international trade, if the dollar falls, the Bretton-Woods stops immediately because you cannot have defaulting money as reference. Fini. Then we need a new Bretton-Woods, in Beijing or in Rio. It will take time. Meanwhile the euro will function rather well although everybody will suffer. We could have fixed it when there was a G20 in 2011 in France and Sarkozy tried to discuss Bretton Woods, but he was refused by the Americans. I can understand, the Americans will do everything to continue the system in which they have. They print money and we buy their paper as money. But this magic is coming to a stop.
The crisis towards which we are going is a change of economic and monetary system. I advise you strongly to read the report of the Club of Rome to the European Parliament on money. It is a 100-page report which explains the situation. It is all there, although nobody speaks about it.
As a former advisor to the former president of the European Commission Jaques Delors, what would be your main reproach towards the current political class in Brussels?
Lack of vision. But I do not blame anyone. I can understand why. They are kept by the day-by-day running and this is normal. Delors allowed himself to have a long-term view as well. I have the impression, but it is hard to prove it, that there has been a decision by the heads of state to weaken the Commission, to send to Brussels lower-level people. But it will come back.
Yes, because of the crisis. The crisis produces the politicians we need. In a business-as-usual situation, you have business-as-usual politicians. C'est normal. If you have a crisis you have new people coming out of the box and coming with new visions and ideas.
How do you perceive the discussion about Britain, where David Cameron promised to hold an in-out referendum?
I have a double-level of reflection about David Cameron. He has to handle his party with a big part that is anti-European. But Cameron has understood that this money system is bankrupt and he knows that in a few months or few years he will have to enter the euro because the dollar and the pound will explode. But he cannot say that.
He does not want to leave because as he said - if we slam the door we will not come back and he knows he will have to come back. He is not stupid. He is just a much squeezed person.
They begin to understand that Europe is making legislation without them, on CO2, the Tobin tax, but also on CDS and other “derivatives” Tobin tax was already in the White book of 1994. This was all there. In 20 years, finally we are doing it without the British. C'est la vie. You want to be out, you are out.
He knows that he will need euro, because he knows the real accounts of the pound is catastrophic. They cannot say that otherwise it collapses immediately. I criticise nobody, because it is not easy, it is difficult for everyone. They are at the brink of the abyss.