Never as in these months and weeks, the need of a European, alternative, positive and realistic approach to the crisis and above all to its solution emerges as an absolute priority.
I was asked to give an assessment of the current situation both from my “Italian” point of view and as co-Chair of the EGP. I will start with my second “hat” and please allow me to be clear, while having the maximum respect for all decisions you will take and thanking you again for your invitation.
We Greens, and both the resolution adopted in Copenhagen with a large majority and the document presented today show this very well, share a common analysis of the situation and agree on the solutions, even if there can be different appreciation of how much “stability” is needed in order to have “solidarity”.
We all know that the situation can go beyond everybody’s control and the time of decisions has really come.
Perhaps next Thursday will not be the last chance to save the EU. But in this moment we have to do everything we can to make of it the beginning of a change of direction of the EU, both in its ways and in its policies. This has to be seen concretely. Otherwise we are just irrelevant and all our good ideas will have to wait till we win elections, if we do of course. It is no more an issue of half full or half empty glass. It is an issue of dynamic to set.
The bottom line here is that there is not much else that individual countries can do to “reassure” the markets and stop the spiral. What we all need (including the “markets”) next Thursday is that the word “more Europe” means something. There must be an agreement on the fact that Italy, Greece, Portugal, Spain and Ireland will not be able to deal with their debt unless there is a decisive step at EU level; and the step needed should go in the direction of a clear declaration that no country will be let to fail; that if the European Stability mechanism does not have resources enough to buy the bonds in order to push down interests rates and reduce the spread the BCE will; we also need a clear decision on a plan for sustainable growth, which stops the small plays with numbers and opens the perspective to euro-bonds and to investments; investments which cannot be limited to give more capital to the EIB, but rely also on a better organised and strengthened EU budget.
Dear friends it is our convinction that the only thing that will make Merkel move is her internal situation. Therefore, even if we say and you say that Merkel got it wrong since the beginning, if she can come to Brussels next week with an agreement of all relevant political forces that the Fiscal compact will be adopted and that she does not need to concede on the reduction of the EU budget, on the ways to deal with interest rates, on the perspective of Eurobonds, on the conditions of the Greek memorandum, on the concrete steps to launch a democratic reform of the EU, I have my doubts that there will be a way to stop the spiral. There will be no attention to the details of the agreement and seen from outside it is difficult to get that the “austerity” only recipe is over. Our fear is that there will be only a triumphant Merkel yet again; whether we like it or not, this will not bring us any nearer to any of the policies we want.
We are happy that you YOU managed to get the FTT. But dear friends, the figures contained both in the agreement among the 4 countries in Rome and the SPD/GREENS/Merkel are not really applicable if we do not have either a perspective of Eurobonds or a higher budget. Neither of the two is in sight for the moment. And we are firmly convinced that the german gvt has a role to play here. And we are not sure that it wants to play it. So we need to use all possibilities to go in that direction. In this situation, those who can have an impact on how things go have a special responsibility: a special responsibility to go in the direction of a solution for all, despite the pressure of national debates and public opinions. This is all the more true for the German Greens, but also because your vote has an impact on what the German government can say and do. This is not normally the case for an opposition party. This is not normally the case for Greens, sometimes even when they are in government, let alone when they are in opposition.
In all countries there is an increasing space in the debate to prejudices and almost racist considerations, that are not only watering down the very sense of the European project, -to create an ever closer union of its peoples after centuries of war-, but are all completely useless to get us out of the crisis. The more the situation gets complex and difficult to understand, the more easy solutions seem attractive.
So proposals like the one of Berlusconi which aims at throwing out Germany from the euro “if it insists in her stubbornness”, the front page of the Bild Zeitung saying “ these are the ones that want our money”, the campaign of the Dutch far right which switched from migrants to anti-euro, even those of the Finnish foreign minister Alexander Stubb ( a former member of the federalist intergroup in the EP) who would like to build a core Europe only with the strongest countries are all signs that there is absolutely nothing “acquis” forever in the EU and that no decision we take is without consequences.
So liebe Freunde Mehr Mut fur Europa bedeutet vielleicht heute mehr Mut der Deutschen Gruene. On the debate in Italy: The fiscal compact is not much of an issue in Italy because nobody argues that we need to put our accounts in order; besides, in our constitution we already have that every expense has to match an income and this did not prevent a huge public debt from arising, even if our banks are healthy and Italians are not indebted. Nobody thinks that the fiscal compact is particularly useful to solve the crisis and it is considered a sort of gift to Merkel’s internal debate. In short, let us get over it and go to the real issues. But it is increasingly appearing that even with the Fiscal Compact adopted Merkel will not change its ways. And this is a problem. Greens and progressive people do not like Professor Monti. He is much nearer to Merkel under an ideological point of view than any of you imagines. The policies his government is implementing in Italy are not particularly creative and hit hard poor people, pensioners; his idea of growth is to build highways, tunnels, even drill oil in the see in front of Greek temples.
But it is a fact that he put Italy back in the European scene. And that whatever cuts and reforms he is proposing internally, his view on how to steer the EU out of the current situation are in line with what we think. Italy, Greece, Spain and Ireland will not be able to deal with their debt unless there is a decisive step at EU level towards a form of mutualisation of it; to stop the spiral we do not need to cut public deficits, because they are being cut, but to show that the EU exists and will continue to exist, that we are serious about our own currency as a common responsibility and that we can find ways to match the necessity to ensure the repayment of the debt and economic development.
Hence his long standing position on deducting investments from the stability pact and on the ECB as lender of last resort, on Eurobonds, etc. as well as his last proposal about the possibility of the ESM to act when the differences in interest rates go too high. Because unless we do not stop this spiral immediately, there is nothing one can do. Perhaps you do not know it, but Italy with all its defects and the pressure of a huge past debt, is still the second manufacturer country after Germany and there is really not much the government could do more to “reassure” the markets.
But his position at home is difficult: Berlusconi and his TV are back in action. The memory of people is short. Very popular showman blogger Grillo is over 18%. They both are introducing in the debate the idea that Italy can survive outside the Eurozone.
This is not to be underestimated. If Monti is not able to come home with something next week, he is in trouble. As it was clearly shown in Rome yesterday, the fact that Merkel could not be convinced on anything relevant to address the current instability beside the reassertion of the fiscal compact and a generic commitment to the FTT means that nothing really substantial risks to come out from the summit. If Monti falls now, because nothing happens in Europe, it is not only a problem for us it is a problem for all. As I said, I am not a supporter of Monti’s politics, on the contrary. But in the European scene his position is useful in this moment. And a total failure of the Summit would be a serious blow to us all. Even if we know that none of the present leaders have in their hand a viable solution to the crisis.
So once again: more courage for Europe means today more courage of the german Greens.