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mercoledì 12 gennaio 2011

Utopia of a government of the rules. Europe and policy.


From 1 January 2011 the EU has entered the first half of European economic policy coordination. A new "container" that were born without their first definitively established rules and content, with a decision process that should culminate with the approval of Parliament, if all goes well, only by June.
The establishment of the European Semester - which also includes structural reforms and support the growth strategy laid down by Europe in 2020 - goes hand in hand, the intention of the legislative package presented by the Commission in September 2010, with the overall reform of economic governance Union. The reform aims both to strengthen the coordination and monitoring of economic policies is to establish a system of preventive and corrective penalties applicable to infringements by Member States.
Why now? The economic and financial crisis has shown the profound negative effects arising from the lack of cooperation between national economic policies and exit from the crisis requires, according to the Commission, more stringent rules and sanctions more reliable, with less political discretion and greater automation.
But no set of rules can deal effectively with crisis situations, since these are almost always caused by extraordinary events and unforeseen and beyond the predictive capabilities of both the technical ability to respond to predetermined rules. The utopia of a "government rules" and can lift the burden of making policy choices, it is difficult to achieve and may give an illusory sense of security, to look away from any source of uncertainty.
Indeed, rules, and automation are likely to be not only ineffective in preventing the crisis but also making the situation worse. On the one hand can reduce confidence in EU institutions, which in the eyes of Europeans to portray the policy to rely on the technocrats in Brussels. And on the other hand, crystallize a traditional approach to problem solving, based on the primacy of financial discipline on the issues of growth, social equity and environmental degradation, though these are already widely used innovative and convincing arguments.
The coming of confidence, not so much against the EU institutions themselves, as to the utility to join the European Union, is shown by the Eurobarometer surveys. Between spring 2007 and 2010, the number of citizens who believe their country's successful EU membership has fallen from 57 to 49%, for the benefit of those who will dismiss (now 18%) and most of those who have an opinion uncertain (29%). In parallel, the percentage of people who think that their country has benefited from being a member of the EU as a whole has been reduced from 59 to 53%, while those responding that there were benefits rose to 35%.
In addition, following a traditional approach to solving problems, you leave out the complex relationships between public expenditure, economic performance and social and environmental objectives, especially during the crisis that European economies are going through. This despite the ambitious goals of the Europe 2020: a smart growth because it is based on knowledge and innovation for more effective sustainable, green and competitive, inclusive as a stimulus to social and territorial cohesion through employment.
The same reason that determines short-term financial assets and that seemed to have been identified as a factor underlying the crisis, is now ushering as a guideline for European policy, with measures "spot" in response to critical situations which show a rapid decision-making capacity, or in parallel to the evolution of public opinion the strongest of the Member States (especially Germany), followed with concern by politicians, especially during the ongoing elections.
But lacks a strategy that is not limited to stating formal rules and procedures, but entering into details of specific policies to strengthen the trust and expectations of European citizens. We need medium and long term actions to reconcile the necessary rigor on the budget with the equally important ability to think and implement projects for economic and social development: improving the quality of life of European citizens, increase the employment rate, strengthen competitive opportunities of the European economy. In particular, the focus on competitive imbalance results in an increased focus on bargaining between the social partners, especially in the Eurozone, where member states no longer have the instrument of devaluation.
The relationships between governments, trade unions and business associations should be an integral part of the strategy outlined by the Commission, for example through increased use of the macroeconomic dialogue and functional, as suggested by Andrew Watts. With a leap, it would be a tool to evaluate a shared between governments and social partners in the economic situation at EU level and what action to activate, in close liaison with the processes of social dialogue and consultation at national level in so that the community dynamics consistent with the national ones.

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