The outcomes of the end of June Summit and the ''new challenges''
“Short term measures for market stability” whilst extending a helping hand to indebted countries with high-speculation risks; “short term growth-boosting measures”, as well as “long term intervention to step up economic governance and the EU as a whole”. European Council President Herman Van Rompuy delivered the final remarks on the 28-29 June Summit in Brussels. Since 2008 the Old Continent has had to come to grips with the impact of a serious financial and economic crisis. EU interventions are directed at covering various areas (sovereign debt, euro currency stability, “real economy”, unemployment, income and consumption). At times these measures delivered positive results while other times there were delays and only partial decisions. But most probably last week’s summit marked significant progress. Some optimistic observers described it as a “turning point”.
Growth, multiyear budget. EU heads of Government or State “decided on a “Compact for Growth and Jobs providing a coherent framework for action to be taken by Member States and the EU with the aim of relaunching growth, investments and employment as well as making Europe more competitive”, is written in the Summit conclusions. The EU leaders also “endorsed country-specific recommendations to guide Member States’ policies and budgets” and highlighted the “role of the next multiyear financial framework to consolidate growth and employment”. The Council gave the green light to Van Rompuy’s report (written with the cooperation of the Commission President Barroso, Jean-Claude Juncker of the Euro group, and Mario Draghi for the ECB) aimed at strengthening economic and monetary Union which, on the basis of an “intermediary report” will be the object of a dedicated meeting in October. The new EMU is based on: “An integrated financial framework, sound public finances, an integrated framework of economic policy and strengthened democratic process and responsibility”.
Three important points. The president of the EU Commission, José Manuel Barroso, underlined three main points of the end-of June summit. The first relates to short term measures to provide support to Countries subjected to market pressures (the long list includes, at present, Ireland, Portugal, Spain, Greece and Cyprus): “Ours is a clear commitment for a single supervisory mechanism for the euro area enabling direct recapitalization by the EFSF at specific conditions”. It’s the anti-spread fund that was largely debated over the past few days. The second element regards the 120 bln “Pact for Growth and Employment” which envisages the optimization of structural funds, the launch of project bonds for targeted investment (infrastructure, energy, networks, support to SMEs, research), boosting crediting potential of the ECB for investments. Third point: the banking union that is yet to be defined, whose operative project is entrusted to the EU Commission. On the front of growth, EU institutions (Council, Commission and Parliament) deem fundamental – Barroso underlines, – to define the 2014-2020 financial framework with specific instructions and EU budget funds aimed at financial and economic recovery, for the growth of backward regions, agriculture, consumers, and to further increase research for innovation purposes.
The time of democracy. “We need investment and we also need reforms. We need growth and also rigour” in public accounts. Barroso addressed MEPs on the main elements that emerged from the summit. On July 3 he will go to Strasbourg with Van Rompuy, to give renewed impetus to the strategy developed by the Commission to exit the crisis, or at least to curb the impact on the economic and social realms. “Let’s be honest – he said upon the closing of the plenary meeting – many challenges still lie ahead. Much more still needs to be done. Releasing contradictory statements a few days prior to the summit is also to be avoided by European leaders”. The reference is to the Dutch and Finnish government that oppose the anti-spread measure is evident. “It would also be necessary – added the Portuguese politician – to have faster decisional processes, keeping up with the markets’ pace, but democracy requires the building of consensus, thus a longer time”. The point was reaffirmed by Danish premier Helle Thorning-Schmidt, EU rotating president until the end of June: “I don’t understand those who strive to diminish the results obtained not only in the summit but also in recent months. We made progress from the budget deal to the growth pact. Now we need more Europe, more cooperation and more solidarity. We have to pass from words to action”.