Belgian Communal elections: Pascal Smet – Flemish Minister for Education, Youth, Equal Opportunities and Brussels Affairs
L’Horloge du Sud, Rue du Trône 141, 1050 Ixelles
Venue open from 19:30 – Meeting at 20:00 – If you would like to eat, please come early and order before the meeting starts.
The Brussels section of the Partito Democratico is pleased to invite you to an evening to present the Italian candidates who are on the list of the Parti Socialiste for the communal elections.
To get to know our candidates, have a drink together and listen to good music, we would be delighted to welcome you on Friday 15 June from 21:00 at the Club Union St-Gilloise (Chaussée de Bruxelles 223, Forest).
This will also be an opportunity to remember the importance of the right for foreigners to vote and the administrative formalities that are necessary to be able to exercise that right.
Pressure is building on the Germans. Every international forum, G7, G8, G20 now turns into a coordinated onslaught to get the Berlin coalition government to change tack, to support a banking union, to underwrite the sovereign debt of other euro countries, to accept a change in the role of the Central Bank, and to modify its view that ever greater austerity represents salvation for errant member states.
Throughout this crisis, Berlin has reacted too little and too late. A clear signal in April 2010 could have halted the speculative undermining of the sovereign debt countries, kept their borrowing costs low and created a firewall around the currency. Obfuscation and denial have caused the costs of shoring up the euro to skyrocket to the extent that serial bail outs may be too testing not just for the mechanisms in place, but for the ECB even were it to be allowed to intervene directly.
The apparently hubristic obstinacy of Berlin (“if only the Greeks could be more like the Germans”) cannot be fully understood if the constraints are ignored. As others have commented, the new Germany has a strong economy but a weak political system: federation means that regional elections are taking place on average three or four times a year somewhere creating a climate of perpetual electioneering; public opinion and an increasingly eurosceptic press is unsympathetic towards the profligate south, and mistrusts European institutions; a cautious and sometimes vacillating Chancellor presides over a fissiparous coalition, one partner in which while under threat of extinction openly flirts with euroscepticism; any new measure requires the explicit approval of the Bundestag and in practice gives a veto to the SPD opposition; and the increasingly assertive Constitutional Court may on any occasion block any measure which is interpreted as ceding power to supranational institutions. The markets may ‘demand’ immediate action from Europe and from its largest member state in particular, but the German political system is poorly placed to oblige.
Paradoxically, the notion of ‘a great leap forward’ to political union begins to make sense in this context. Everybody can now see the institutional design faults in the original euro governance. It is also understood that guarantees for the debts of others require elements of multilateral supervision and even control of national budgets. The only way forward which would be compatible with German ideology and its constitutional requirements would be some transforming act of integration; with a quasifederal political union as an essential precondition for a fiscal and banking union.
Hence in the last few days, Eurobonds and a banking union are no longer dismissed out of hand, but viewed as problems of sequencing, as things which might be possible were the road cleared for political union. Hence the Chancellor and in particular her Finance Minister have upped the rhetoric on federal union. Hence her Foreign Minister has convened a working group to prepare constitutional proposals, and, paradox of paradox, intends inviting Laurent Fabius, the new French foreign minister, widely seen as the man who scuppered the Constitutional Treaty, to join.
The trouble with this scenario, by which the chastened European Union, recognising the need for stronger mechanisms to underpin the euro, and to build confidence between the virtuous northern states and the spendthrift south, decides on a qualitative reform of the way the union works, is not simply that any result from this process would take more time than the markets may be prepared to allow. It is that the politics of it may not now work. Continue reading Guest blog from Julian Priestley: Europe’s High Noon approaches