Opinion – Lisbon and Stability Pact: Europe’s perverse system

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

With the Stability and Growth Pact and the Lisbon Agenda, the EU
has created a perverse system which is incapable of creating a
feeling of effectiveness and political success, argues Thomas
Klau in the Financial Times Germany.

Brussels EU correspondent of the FT Germany, Thomas Klau, has
delivered a scathing assessment of the EU’s Stability and Growth
Pact and the Lisbon Agenda. Both policies rest on similar concepts
and follow similar developments. EU leaders make promises, cannot
deliver, then make new promises, the press and the political
commentators report about it, and the game can start anew.

Every so often, the EU leaders than have to admit that they did
not reach their goals, which leads to a spiral of negative news in
the press. This, in turn, undermines the feel-good factor all
economies need to flourish.

“Ungewollt ist ein perverses System entstanden, das strukturell
unfähig ist, den Eindruck der Handlungsfähigkeit und des
politischen Erfolgs zu erzeugen,” writes Klau.

The problem is that the two policies rest on the concept of
“management by objective” in areas where the EU has no real power.
Small countries such as Portugal might comply with the rules of
these policies, but when big member states get into trouble, they
just ignore what they decided at EU level.

The failure of the Stability and Growth Pact as well as of the
Lisbon agenda is therefore structurally embedded. The constant
fight over these two policies is all the more damaging because it
takes the attention away from the real existing success stories of
the European economic and monetary policies.

‘Management by objective’ as a substitute for real political
integration is a recipe for frustration. As soon as EU leaders
recognise this, European politics will be believable again.

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