Analysing the October European Council

DISCLAIMER: All opinions in this column reflect the views of the author(s), not of EURACTIV.COM Ltd.

“While the 15-16 October European Council agreed on the financial rescue package, they displayed growing disunity over the energy and climate package,” according to the European Policy Centre’s (EPC) post-summit analysis.

The good news is that the summit “EU-ised” a €2000 billion package designed to tackle the financial crisis and “topped it up with guarantees of assistance to those countries which are not yet in the euro zone,” says the EPC.

In addition, the euro has proved influential in mitigating the financial turmoil and “prevented a currency and devaluation crisis on top of the credit meltdown,” the think tank claims.

However, the crisis has also highlighted the residual limits of monetary union, given the “persistence of separate (and often different) national supervisory systems and rules for the banking sector,” the EPC says.

As a consequence, it became evident at the summit that “transborder operations and groups require transborder authorities to monitor them,” the wrap-up paper argues. 

Rather than trying to identify winners and losers among EU leaders in this crisis, the EPC contends that it is more appropriate to “speak of collective success” for the EU and in particular the euro zone. 

Moreover, the centre argues that the leaders have not only “contributed to this success to varying degrees by trial and error”, they have “learned lessons while the crisis was unfolding and eventually converged on a common line of action”. 

On the other hand, the EPC notes that eight new member states strongly criticised the draft energy and climate change package, protesting that their targets are both “unfair and unrealistic”. Italy has also claimed that the “targets are now completely unattainable and could end up damaging the competitiveness of European manufacturers,” the paper observes. 

As a result, the French EU Presidency has postponed a decision on the energy and climate change package “until the European Council in December,” the EPC says.

By doing this, the think tank argues that France has “implicitly submitted the package to consensus ‘rule’, rather than the qualified majority voting rule in force at the Council level,” adding that this could “become a recipe for further paralysis in December”.

All in all, the EPC argues that the European summit “was a quintessential case of good and bad news”. 

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