France: ‘Europe of results’ needs results

Handling globalisation should be the EU’s new ‘raison d’être’ to address the public’s ‘EU fatigue’, argues France’s European Affairs minister.

The crash of the Constitutional treaty was blamed on several more or less connected issues: 

  • The 2004 enlargement was badly explained to the public and thus not accepted; 
  • uncertainty about the limits of the EU and resistance to future enlargement, in particular Turkey, in some countries; 
  • fear of economic and social pressure from globalisation;
  • the service directive and fear of social dumping, and; 
  • distrust in the national political classes and the EU in general. 

In her speech, Colonna described the EU as being in a "worrying state", hit by a "general fatigue", which does "not promise well for the future". 

She cited the services directive, which was first proposed at the beginning of 2004, as an example of how slow the legislative process can be. 

Colonna said that the "attraction deficit" the EU is suffering from in the eyes of its citizens is due to a lack of delivery: "The 'Europe of results' is in need of results". 

According to her analysis the historic role of the EU as 'the peacemaker' does not impress younger generations who have not known World War II. The new and supplementary 'raison d'être' of the EU should be as a responsible force, which can handle globalisation to the benefit of the EU citizens: 

"The EU should be a space of economic and social development which offers an added efficacy on top of what the member states can offer. The EU should help citizens to make the most of globalisation, and if necessary be a protection," Colonna said. 

The EU must aim to achieve a "controlled opening" of global trade. To this end, there need to be new policy items on the international trade agenda: "Protection of investments, competition law, and also promotion of social and environmental and social values." Colonna also proposed to develop an industrial policy and join forces on "projects of a global dimension." 

She went on to denounce the growing recourse to intergovernmentalism and argued the case for a true coordination of economic policies, namely in the Eurogroup  and for more harmonisation of EU policy in areas such as company taxation. 

She suggested the idea of a European minimum salary, adapted to economic levels of each Member State. Finally, she encouraged France to rediscover pride in the EU, saying that it "has not fallen down from Mars, but is the product of a collective will". 

In an opinion piece in Le Monde, former civil society member of the Convention of the future of Europe, Zoé Magarinos-Rey, argued that if one wants to save EU, it needs to become politicised.

A revised Constitutional Treaty should therefore allow for a number of elements that will enhance the EUs political dimension:

  • The Commission president should be chosen by the Council but picked from an existing group of MEPs;
  • 30% of MEPs should be elected on pan-European lists, and;  
  • the European Parliament should have a right of initiative, now the privilege of the Commission.  

Read this article in Slovak  (EURACTIV.sk).

 

The 'No' votes to the Constitutional treaty in France and Holland in 2005 plunged the EU into crisis. Member States and EU institutions have since tried to find a strategy to resolve the crisis and analyse how this situation came to pass. 

France's European Affairs minister Catherine Colonna delivered a critical diagnosis including key ideas to find a way forward in a speech in Paris at the annual gathering of French diplomats on 29 August. 

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