Director at Altiero Spinelli Institute
Several sources claim that this plan is a step forward in terms of protecting environment but one which will create serious problems of competitiveness for European companies. The problem is not unfounded and European policy is called to give an answer in the coming years.
There are at least two areas on which it will be necessary to act to deal successfully with a plan so ambitious.
The first area is the one of internal investment. Europe must invest to support research and development of new technological and industrial solutions. These investments will have significant impact on qualified employment in Europe and the ability to export high-technology products. The main road to follow is a limited European public debt, financed by the issuing of European Union Bonds: a debt to finance a change that will allow considerable savings in future but that, in the next few years, will cost the European economies a lot.
Europe must invest to support research and development of new technological and industrial solutions
The second area is the one related to foreign policy. Europe must be able to bring on the same line the other major economies of the planet, starting with the United States, or the differential costs could heavily affect the competitiveness of European economies and all European efforts would be inadequate to ensure an environmentally sustainable future.
The way marked by this directive is to encourage investment, which will allow us to save on raw materials (primarily those used to produce energy), compared with consumption. In a period where we talk a lot about the need to accelerate the European growth and the possibility of an American recession, Brussels’ choice can strongly appear as a possible alternative. The government of the United States and the Central American Bank decided that, in order to continue to grow, America must continue to consume.
A path that is different from the American way: growth increasing the expenses for investments rather than for consumption
The plan, presented a few days ago by Bush, along with discounts in interest rates do not leave doubts on the road chosen by the administration beyond ocean. Europe with this directive begins to outline a different direction: grow by increasing investment expenditure rather than consumptions. It ’a difficult path, we do not know if that can be flown without encountering obstacles and changes, but it is a direction that we can take the courage to start together.
To do this, the current EU is not enough and it is necessary to go towards a real European government, accountable to a European Parliament, with limited but real powers in the field of foreign policy and economic policy. The next European elections in 2009 will be a turning point if parties will indicate this need in their programs together with those who will be their candidate for the presidency of the European Commission.
This could be a fundamental step to give democratic legitimacy to the European Commission and the courage to Europe to tackle such an ambitious plan that can change the fate of the planet.