Dr. Olli Rehn, Vice-President of the European Commission and member of the Commission responsible for Economic and Monetary Affairs and the Euro, has given a speech to the ECON Committee (The European Parliament´s Economic and Monetary Affairs committee). In his speech Dr. Rehn (who is - or at least his speechwriter is - well versed in the European Union´s bureaucratic gobbledygook) highlighted the following clearly defined, concrete steps:
Therefore, while we reflect and work on the design of a future EMU, we must at the same time make full use of the existing instruments and toolbox and of the governance framework currently in place, improving them where there is room for improvement.
We can still enhance the governance framework, in particular by completing work on the two-pack. We must introduce new dynamism into the ongoing trilogues to allow us to swiftly reach an agreement that respects the original aim of proposals, notably improving budgetary surveillance and coordination in the euro area.
This includes a timely presentation of Member States' draft budgetary plans ahead of parliamentary adoption and a more efficient framework to ensure the correction of excessive deficits.
Moving towards more decisions made at European level on financial, fiscal and economic policies requires strong mechanisms to legitimise the decisions taken in common and to ensure the necessary democratic accountability and political participation. This is essential to build public support for European-wide decisions that have a far reaching impact on the everyday lives of citizens. Citizens should not only be able to enjoy the benefits in terms of more stability and prosperity but also feel more ownership of the policy processes.
The Economic Dialogue introduced by the Six-Pack is a new inter-institutional instrument ensuring a forum for democratic accountability in the area of economic policy coordination. A potentially far-reaching aspect of the six-pack are the innovative provisions which allow the Parliament to conduct Economic Dialogues with individual Member States, in particular when they are in breach EU rules. These provisions allow for a national government to be held to account in public at the European level for any failure to respect their European obligations.
Isn´t it wonderful that an unelected bureaucrat like Dr. Rehn is so dedicated to democratic accountability and ordinary European citizens´ "ownership of the policy processes"! (The speechwriter had realised that the commissioner was addressing those larger than life guardians of democracy at the European Parliament).
However, one sentence in Dr. Rehn´s speech needs to be clarified:
While we need to be ready for bold steps towards integrated financial, fiscal and economic policies, we should not raise the bar too high – at least in the short term – since this would risk, paradoxically, playing into the hands of those seeking to portray a truly integrated EMU as an impossibility.
What Dr. Rehn really meant is that the European Commission and all the political decision makers, who are working hard in order to create a European Federal State, want to introduce it by stealth. European citizens should not be told about it - at least not "in the short term" - because that could "play into the hands" of the majority of Europeans who do not want it.
Among Dr. Rehn´s "tools", the "six-pack" is easy to comprehend even for the ordinary "European citizen". But what is a "two-pack"?