A Europe of different levels

Lees hier het pdf van dit artikel. Door Wouter Koolmees While I was writing this column, my colleagues and I were travelling by train to the European Central Bank in Frankfurt. I told them that my column concerned the liberal borders of Europe and Arnold Merkies, a colleague from the Socialist Party, replied that ‘Europe doesn’t have any liberal borders.’ In some way, he’s right about this. The main principles of the European Union are liberal, especially when it comes to the economy and budget finance. Free movement is a liberal pillar of the European Union and the open borders, the level playing field and deregulation give the European citizens the right to move freely between member states. In this sense, Europe does not have any borders. In the last decade, more free movement has caused more economic integration, but also greater interdependency between member states. This was exactly what the founders of the EU intended. Like everything, however, it also has another side. Economic integration has made capital so liquid that it runs easily from state to state. Before the crisis, most capital went from North to South. Nowadays it’s going in the other direction, which has had only negative consequences: banks had to be financially backed by states, the interest rates of Southern obligations were raised through the ceiling and all this was followed by strict austerity measures to maintain proper budget finance. The result is a continuously rising unemployment rate, especially compared with the other, Northern, member states. A European Banking Union (Single Resolution Mechanism) is necessary to regulate this disturbing effect of capital markets and I am convinced that it is only a matter of time before we have one if we want to restore the stability of the Eurozone. A Banking Union with European supervision, a European bad bank plan and a European system that guarantees bank accounts should be set up as quickly as possible. But more and more, I see a new problem: a Europe of different levels. The Banking Union uncovers a huge difference between the Eurozone and other member states. Some states don’t want European supervision or European politicians deciding on the (potential) bankruptcy of their national banks. I am convinced that this Europe of different levels is something we cannot afford. It creates differences between member states, conflicting with the liberal principles of the Union. There will be no level playing field and that will possibly lead to new protectionism. The actions of one state have consequences for the other. There’s nothing new about that. The new thing is that it creates a Europe of different levels. It creates a paradox, where more European integration creates more differences within Europe. It means a leap backwards instead of the necessary steps forward. The best liberal solutions for the future Europe will be harder to achieve. This gives us all the responsibility to find a solution.   Wouter Koolmees is member of Dutch Parliament for D66.   Heeft dit artikel uw interesse gewekt? Klik hier voor meer info en abonnementen. – – Dit artikel verscheen in idee nr. 6 2013: Crossing European borders, en is te vinden bij het onderwerp Europese Unie.