SME Chamber

The cost of non-Europe

On 18 September 2012, the EESC adopted
an opinion on the cost of non-Europe, an issue which has resurfaced on the
European agenda not only because it is important in mapping a way out of the
financial crisis, but also because it is crucial to the success of the Europe
2020 strategy and the next Multiannual Financial Framework. It is a useful
perspective from which to take forward the debate on pursuing European
integration at a time of rising anti-European sentiment among citizens, growing
populism and extremism.

The idea of the cost of non-Europe is
not new; in 1988, Paolo Cecchini drew up a study for the European Commission on
the cost of non-Europe in relation to the single market, which played a
decisive role in the implementation of economic and monetary union.  In its opinion Towards an updated study of
the cost of non-Europe, the EESC is now proposing that Mr Cecchini's study be
revamped to reflect current circumstances: the cost of incomplete integration
in the context of the economic crisis. 

"Contrary to the populist ideas
being voiced in certain political quarters in a number of EU countries, current
economic problems are not related to excesses in Brussels, but to the fact that
European integration is fundamentally incomplete," said George Dassis,
rapporteur for the opinion and president of the EESC Workers Group.

The Member States – under pressure from
the financial markets and from new binding institutional rules – seem to be
heading for a period of austerity that jeopardises the growth demanded by the
financial markets. Faced with this downward spiral, which is reducing people to
poverty and destitution, the EESC calls for decisive steps to pool expenditure
at European level, thus creating a virtuous circle of growth. This can only be
achieved if the necessary political will is in place to take those decisive
steps. The EESC emphasises the cost of taking the wrong path: the cost of
non-Europe. Henri Malosse, president of the Employers Group, made an
unambiguous statement on this point: "Come on decision-makers, it is time
to act. Harness the huge potential of Europe's 500 million citizens. You have
no right to let them down!"

With all these factors in mind, a much
broader analysis of the cost of non-Europe is needed than was proposed in the
Commission's study on The cost of non-Europe: the untapped potential of the
European single market. The EESC calls for a full accounting of the cost of
non-Europe and the impact on employment and growth, and for the Europe 2020
strategy to include objectives for reducing this cost, accompanied by a clear
action plan and a systematic evaluation of its progress. The results of a
comprehensive study will be the strongest argument against eurosceptics and the
doubts about the EU referred to by Luca Jahier, co-rapporteur for the opinion
and president of the Various Interests Group: "In spite of some outstanding
successes and a world-wide profile, the European Union continues to harbour
doubts about itself and to cause others to doubt it."

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