venerdì 31 maggio 2013

Report cards in Brussels

Is austerity over? This was probably the question all around the world public opinion after an evaluation on the EU-27 current situation by the European Commission was released on Wednesday. The outlook gave waivers on the budget rules to some of the most important economies in the EU. France, Spain and Poland saw an extension by 2 years of the deadline to reduce budget deficit to 3% of GDP, while Portugal and the Netherlands only obtained a one year deadline extension. Good news came also for those countries that were under the Commission surveillance for excessive deficit, among them Italy. Rome is no longer in the excessive deficit procedure (EDP) started by Brussels in 2009. Also countries like Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania and Romania were set free from EDP after accomplishing their objectives. Actually, as shown in the chart below, only six countries out of twenty-seven had no excessive deficit. 

Wednesday news from Brussels means austerity lowered the deficit and budgets are bettering, though in the XXI century Europe you cannot have everything. The employment emergency is indeed the other side of the coin, together with production levels and the whole EU GDP which in the first quarter of the year went down 0.1%, which means no growth at all. German budget cuts and restrictions philosophy proved wrong and EU current recession demonstrates that deficit adjustments on their own cannot stimulate growth. 

Certainly, governments bond spreads with German bund are definitely better than were a couple of months ago for Greece (765), Portugal (404), Spain (285), Italy (261) and Ireland (215). But this does not mean the emergency is over. Unemployment rate and EU biggest countries domestic product show how deep the recession is in our continent. For this reason, Brussels warned France and Spain to pursue new pension and labour market reforms, while UK was urged to speed up its cuts, although the positive outlook on the GDP for the next years. But with no ambitious plan to deeply reform the Union, these look like sterile recommendations. Things thus standing, it seems that the worst is yet to come.  


lunedì 27 maggio 2013

The EU and the USA: the trade partnership

Negotiations will start this summer, coinciding with other important international European diplomacy meetings such as the G8 at Lough Erne in Northern Ireland, and the European Council in June. 

The objective is to conclude talks before October 2014, though experts believe that an agreement will not enter into force until January 2016. Given the importance of this kind of partnership, negotiations between the EU and US governments, together with important international pressure groups, could well be ongoing for the next two years.
Trade between the United States and Europe now represents a third of imports and exports worldwide. An exchange that last year was worth ... read the full article on


giovedì 9 maggio 2013

This year's Schuman Day for younger Europeans!

It was on 9th May 1950 when French foreign affairs minister, Robert Schuman, made his famous declaration to create a new supranational community that might serve peace worldwide: the European Union. What once was called the European Coal and Steel Community is today a wider project which includes benefits for all the people living within it. However, EU citizens are very reluctant to understand such benefits, mostly because these are not tangible and often given for granted.
The economic and social crisis spreading in our continent is making people more and more critical about EU. It's a fact. Germany is seen as the austerity monster. Southern Europeans are blamed of laziness. In the euro-skeptical UK an anti-EU party shakes London politics, while Italian Beppe Grillo's movement makes civil society in the country be represented by a comedian. Greece is on the ragged edge, with its economy quite devastated, beyond the election of Neo-Nazis in their Parliament. Youth unemployment is set to rise again and next generations will probably not enjoy the rights and benefits experienced by older generations. As a matter of fact, EU could be perceived as a disaster, though everybody knows it is not like that. Especially rising populism.

The Schuman Declaration

But how can we explain to younger generations like mine Europe is not just a common currency, an internal market or the Erasmus exchange program? How can we prove EU is not just a bureaucratic monster forbidding food like intestines (a delicious dish for the Greeks) or imposing chocolate recipe to some industries? Communications, in this case, really matters: EU should show its tangible benefits. The story that the once famously belligerent Europe has been at peace for more than 60 years thanks to the EU has overcome. A new argument should now be put on the table. A restructuring of EU institutions, a more prominent role of the Parliament and its legislative bodies together with more integration in terms of speaking with a single voice are the Union's next top priorities.
I will not argue on wether we need a bank union or eurobonds. These are certainly important topics but people do not perceive them as benefits. What people needs now is facts. 
For this reason, 2013 Schuman Day should be dedicated to younger European citizens. Time has come to make them feel part of this game as the main actors of this great project. It is now their time to understand how can EU positively affect their daily lives. The fight against leaving young Europeans without a future is XXI century first challenge for our continent, whether the spread rises or not. 
This year's Europe Day requires a big compromise for the next generations. All together, under the spirit of the Schuman Declaration, we have to find the solutions to get out of this economic, social and political crisis involving younger generations.