Irish EU presidency can drive European recovery
by Joseph Daul
We must strengthen our economic and monetary union, and we need a credible European budget - which can rise to the challenge of reviving our economy - writes MEP
The Irish presidency of the European Union, which has just started will be one chaired by a country on the road to recovery. We are confident that Ireland will also drive a recovery agenda for Europe. Ireland's story is that growth returned after tough decisions and necessary reforms were made. Difficult decisions are still being implemented.
I congratulate Taoiseach Enda Kenny for the extraordinary efforts made to reverse the trend and take control of the economic crisis. Since 2008, Ireland has achieved fiscal consolidation of 18 per cent of its gross domestic product. The Irish government is on its way to reaching a balanced budget. But, as we all know, success will only be sustainable if the country continues on this path. Now is not the time to weaken. There is nothing worse than relaxing efforts when the pressure falls away and when the first positive results come in. Doing so runs the risk of a second crisis, which is worse than the first.
This has been our catchphrase for more than two years: there is no solidarity without responsibility. And there is even more solidarity with those who acted responsibly and in an exemplary manner, like Ireland, by following the programme to the letter. When Ireland emerges from the programme, on time and with renewed financial health, we will all be winners.
The tasks facing Ireland are tasks for Europe: to create recovery that lasts and enables job creation for our citizens. This is crucial since the latest Eurostat figures show that 26 million citizens were out of work in November 2012 - the highest figure since the euro was launched more than a decade ago. They are our foremost priority. I, therefore, welcome the Irish presidency's motto of 'stability, growth and jobs'.
What Europe needs is sustainable growth. We also need real European policies; more integration. To be completely effective, we must also move towards fiscal and social harmonisation. This year, we need guidelines and a precise timetable for achieving economic and monetary union. With my political family, we support the new capital rules for banks. And we are in favour of a speedy development and adoption of common regulation; regulations which will eventually apply to all banks, in every member state. We are convinced that the priority now is to reinforce economic governance. This means the implementation of the 'six pack', the stability treaty, coordination and governance. It also means that we have to urgently reach agreement on the 'two pack'.
Our common policies which have contributed to our success, like the Common Agricultural Policy or EU cohesion policy as well European innovation policies – which offer real synergy in research and development - must be reinforced. Our economies are linked to each other, we have a single market. Is this not a powerful tool for finding European solutions for our 26 million unemployed? For all these reasons, we must strengthen our economic and monetary union. And for the same reasons, we need a credible European budget, one which can rise to the challenge of reviving our economy. Ireland is an example of recovery. Its presidency will, I am sure, be one of European recovery.
Joseph Daul MEP is chairman of the European People's Party group in the European Parliament
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