No 'economic recovery' without Europe

But the upcoming parliamentary elections can be used as 'a call for change' pushing Europe towards a 'more realistic' EU project, says Oreste Rossi.

By Oreste Rossi MEP

15 Apr 2014

How Italians are going to vote in the European elections remains unclear as there seems to be disillusionment with all politicians, whether they are from left, right or centre. The country's terrible economic situation includes 14 years of near-zero growth, a deep double-dip recession since 2007, and over 12 months of painful austerity. This has surely angered the voters. Inevitably, the euro currency does not work and the crisis has assumed an even greater magnitude.

The results of the next elections will matter both for the future of Italy and also the euro. The political and popular debate over a break-up of the eurozone frequently misrepresents the real problem. The popular misperception of the euro is the idea that a country will be able to stimulate growth by simply leaving the single currency, without significant consequences. This argument is wrong.

The cost of a weak country leaving the euro is significant. Consequences include a sovereign default, a corporate default, resulting in a collapse of the economic system and collapse of international trade. Is this what Italy really needs? Italy's problem is its loss of competitiveness and leaving the eurozone is not the solution.

"Without Europe there is no prosperity, solidarity or economic recovery, only the creation of isolation, crisis and a lack of competitiveness"

The apathy and the general sense of pessimism for the future of the euro currency must seem astonishing to an outsider. And it should worry them too, just as it worries observers elsewhere in Europe, who see Italy's position threatening the euro and potentially causing the crisis to burst back into life. We are not all at war with the EU; Italians have to raise their voice and call for a change. The Italian economy still has strengths that could help restore its health, with its myriad of small and medium-sized firms, especially in the north. They still provide exports, and have a manufacturing base that is stronger than those of the UK and France.

With the passing of the Lisbon treaty, parliament finally became a powerful legislator and plays a key and decisive role in defining EU policies. We have an opportunity to create, together, favourable conditions for sustainable growth and employment so that these issues will be the main parliament policy objectives over the next five years. These objectives can be summarised as a policy of targeted and sustainable investments. I believe a real reform of the European central bank's mission is needed, with direct access to credit systems for households and businesses, rather than loans at ridiculously low interest rates to the banks.

This May's parliamentary elections are the only occasion in which our citizens are consulted on choosing their representatives at the European institutional level, as all other EU institutions have an appointment system. The strong message of the Eurosceptics, and their promise to destroy the original European project, pushes us towards a more realistic project, such as originally initiated by the founding fathers.

Without Europe there is no prosperity, solidarity or economic recovery, only the creation of isolation, crisis and a lack of competitiveness.