Whatever challenge the EU is facing, the answer we hear quite often is “more Europe”. The same recipe for various severe diseases. Yet, before a doctor recommends a treatment, he or she needs provide a diagnosis and then a prognosis, and none of this is happening.
I am afraid that in many cases the repeatedly recommended remedy “more Europe” is not going to work. Throughout Europe, we witness a dramatic increase in right wing populism and that is the result of “too much Europe.” What does “more Europe” mean? It means 27 and soon 26 other member states have a say on how many immigrants a country needs to take; it means 17 member states have a say on your monetary policies, thus, on your spending for social and labour policies and others.
Brexit, in my view, is the greatest catastrophe in most recent years and indirect result of “too much Europe.” Brussels has too often violated the principles of subsidiarity (making decisions closest to people), self-responsibility and competitiveness as laid down in the Lisbon treaty. This is what helped create the base for the British referendum in the first place. Brussels has contributed to the outcome by refusing to offer the necessary flexibility to let Britain control its immigration. That is a tragedy, as the United Kingdom alone has an economy equivalent to the total economy of 19 smaller EU member states. It is the second largest net contributor to the EU budget despite the rebate. I still believe that there is a way out of this mess. The EU should make United Kingdom a new offer (A New Deal for Britain: www.new-deal-for-britain.eu) giving the country the flexibility and autonomy it has always asked for – together with a clear commitment to subsidiarity, competitiveness and self-responsibility for a country’s debts, as agreed in the Lisbon Treaty.
Furthermore, the crisis in Italy is also due to a “too much Europe”, especially due to the Euro. Many people argue that we need the euro for the single market. Yet, 9 member states, part of the common market, are not members of the Eurozone. In fact, those with their own currencies have been growing much faster than the majority of the Eurozone countries. It is the performance of the German export economy lifting the average growth in the Eurozone up.
Sadly, there is no country in Europe which suffers more under the “one size fits all “ like Italy does. Before Italy joined the euro, it had a world market share of 6% which has shrunk now to 3%. The country is over-indebted. The youth unemployment rate is a total disaster. Italy starts realising that it is suffering from a far too strong currency while the German industry benefits unfairly from a far too weak euro, leading to a massive export surplus.
I value the peace in Europe very much but I do not believe that it has anything to do with the Euro. Germany is not at war with non-Eurozone members. Yet, we see a poisonous atmosphere in Italy with anti-German sentiments being used to drum up votes. It is very obvious why. It is because the euro forces the largest creditor – Germany – to reproach the largest debtor – Italy.
Mrs. Merkel was not elected by the Italians. We have seen what has happened back then in Greece as well. I believe that a currency need to correspond to our different fiscal and economic cultures instead of other countries constantly wanting to dictate to the Italians how they can remain competitive on global markets. I think we should leave it up to them whether they want to do labour market reforms or depreciation, or a combination of the two. The most recent elections in Italy show that that is the view of most Italians as well.
Marco Valli and Marco Zanni, Italian Members of the European Parliament, have asked the ECB President what Italy would need to do in order to leave the Euro and he said that “in the event of withdrawal from the monetary union, Italy must first pay all of its commitments to the ECB.” Draghi was showing a way out of the Italian problem: leaving the monetary union.
If it were to leave, Italy should also be financially supported. That would balance our books, which is long due. To conclude, a sick Italy in the monetary union is nowhere near as good as a healthy Italy with its own currency. That is why I believe Italy would be economically better off outside the Eurozone.