By Joseph Daul - 18th January 2013
Today, Europe is better equipped to tackle an economic crisis. We have done our homework and taken decisions in key areas, reinforcing the EU
Joseph Daul argues that 2013 could be the year where the EU and its member states begin to see the results of their hard work during the economic crisis.
It is said that 13 is an unlucky number. I believe that in life you don’t get what you want through luck, but you get what you work for. This is why I think 2013 could be the first year that we will bear the fruits of all the hard work that has been done since the economic crisis started.
The Irish presidency that has just started will be one chaired by a country on the road to recovery. We are confident that Ireland will also drive a recovery agenda for Europe. Ireland’s story is that growth returned after tough decisions and necessary reforms were made. Difficult decisions are still being implemented. But the tasks facing Ireland are tasks for Europe: to create recovery that lasts and enables job creation for our citizens. This is crucial since the latest Eurostat figures show that 26 million Europeans were out of work in November 2012 - the highest figure since the euro was launched more than a decade ago. They are our foremost priority. I therefore welcome the Irish presidency’s motto: “stability, growth and jobs”. But for this motto to become the union’s catchphrase in 2013, we must continue to strengthen our integration and implement more concrete reforms. We know that our solutions are having an effect and we have examples to prove it, starting with Ireland’s most recent figures and finishing with Latvia’s success.
Europe means concrete policies from which Europeans benefit every day. But today, we have to go further than this. We need a solid financial framework to reinforce an ambitious European budget; which is, in reality, an investment one. This year will be decisive for the negotiations of the EU’s long-term budget for 2014-2020. This budget must provide added value in terms of growth-boosting investment. It represents a political commitment to fund common projects, common policies and to work together for a common future. It must also allow for flexibility, so that the EU can better react and channel funds where it deems appropriate. Last, but not least, it should be better financed through own resources.
We need investment in research and development, and in innovation, both powerful sources of growth and jobs in Europe. We need to continue investing in our traditional policies, such as agriculture and cohesion. In the Baltic countries, for example, without funding from Europe, railway lines will continue to be connected to Moscow and not to the EU. Yet, like us, the Baltic countries need these lines.
The truth is that we either learn the lessons of these last 60 years which led to the EU getting the Nobel peace prize and we continue to work together to re-launch Europe around peace, solidarity and competitiveness, or we trap ourselves in selfish, nationalist positions.
Today, Europe is better equipped to tackle an economic crisis. We have done our homework and taken decisions in key areas, reinforcing the EU. But we need to do more and we no longer have the luxury of time. Member states must apply what they, together with us, the European parliament, agreed on. And we need to implement those decisions.
We also have to step up our efforts to complete the single market, break down the barriers met by our companies and businesses on a daily basis. Only then can we move towards increased mobility on the European labour market and will we better fight unemployment, particularly among our youth.
To be completely effective, we must also move towards fiscal and social harmonisation. This year, we need guidelines and a precise timetable for achieving economic and monetary union. With my political family, we support the new capital rules for banks. And we are in favour of a speedy development and adoption of common regulation, regulations which will eventually apply to all banks, in every member state. We are convinced that the priority now is to reinforce economic governance. This means the implementation of the six-pack, the stability treaty, and coordination and governance. It also means that we have to urgently reach agreement on the two-pack.
Europe is about enlargement as well. It is our neighbourhood policy, creating an area of partnership, prosperity and peace. I look forward to welcoming Croatia as the 28th member of the EU in July this year. In the storm of this economic crisis, one should not forget that the light of European ideals is still reaching the farthest corners of Europe, from Iceland to Turkey, and inspires hope, prospect and solidarity among the people.
This year, I hope to see a strong, united Europe, economically and politically; a Europe that continues to promote its values in the world; a Europe where everyone has the chance to realise their projects and initiatives and believes in a bright future.
Joseph Daul is chair of parliament's EPP group.