Interparliamentary Conference held in Vilnius discussed post-crisis economic governance in the EU

21 October 2013, Last updated at, 08:18 EEST
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author: O. Posaškova

At the session of the Interparliamentary Conference on Economic and Financial Governance of the European Union devoted to the debate on setting up the right framework for post-crisis economic governance in the European Union, the following keynote speaker took the floor: Algirdas Šemeta, Member of the European Commission; Norbert Barthle, Member of the Budget Committee of the German Bundestag; and Elisa Ferreira, Member of the European Parliament and Rapporteur on the European Semester in the European Parliament.

All the speakers stressed the importance of enhanced cooperation between the European Parliament and national Parliaments in setting the right framework for post-crisis economic governance as well as the importance of meeting the expectations of the EU citizens in combating unemployment, guaranteeing tax collection and pursuing the principles of social equality.

“The involvement of national Parliaments is essential to improve ownership, ensure early discussions on national reform programmes, and make the best use of the analysis and recommendations they receive in designing growth-enhancing policy reforms and budgetary decisions. The European Parliament, on its side, is a key partner in the economic dialogue at European level. As such, it should ensure the transparency of the entire exercise and monitor the comply-or-explain principle on Country Specific Recommendations addressed to Member States”, said Algirdas Šemeta, Member of the Commission and a former Lithuanian Finance Minister.

Despite the scepticism towards the European issues in many EU Member States, Algirdas Šemeta is convinced that better understanding of the the proposed solutions will prove beneficial to EU’s citizens and reduce the euro-skepticism. Mr Šemeta is convinced there is room for improvement in the area of tax collection: “We also have to take tax enforcement and the fight against unreported economic activity more seriously. Research has shown that there is a direct link between tax compliance and how the state and its institutions are perceived by citizens. Therefore, in order to improve tax compliance, we also need to raise the quality of the public goods offered. In my view, offering an environment of good governance is not only important for competitiveness; it is also a prerequisite for our citizens to believe that they are making a valuable contribution to society by paying their taxes”.

Norbert Barthle, Member of the Budget Committee of the German Bundestag, believes that more Europe can only work if governmental institutions convince citizens, to a greater extent than before, to join them on this road. He also emphasised the need for increasing the democratic legitimacy of European institutions as well as for further strengthening of the role of national Parliaments. 

“I believe it would be sensible to appoint a European Commissioner for budgets, with powers similar to those of the Competition Commissioner, in that he or she could veto national budgets if they do not conform to the mutually agreed rules. This would not violate the national parliaments’ budgetary rights. The aim is simply to safeguard compliance with the agreed deficit ceilings already legitimized by the national parliaments”, Mr Barthle noted.

Elisa Ferreira, Member of the European Parliament and Rapporteur on the European Semester in the European Parliament, noted that the economic crisis of 2008 was still lasting and that it had a multi-axial effect. The MEP was convinced that the EU had not been prepared to absorb internal shocks, thus, the social cost of the crisis was extremely high. This has also brought about a lot of unexpected tensions as well as disenchantment of many citizens with Europe.   

The Member of the European Parliament is convinced that all of this will have to be taken into account in future debates; therefore there is a need to combat extreme poverty and massive unemployment, as well as tax avoidance and tax evasion, since they are related to the sense of fairness that is of central importance to EU’s citizens. 
 

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