La rentrée: Marco Zanni says it's time for change

The Coronavirus crisis has brought the need for major EU reform into sharp relief, argues the European Parliament's ID Group leader Marco Zanni.
Marco Zanni | Photo credit: European Parliament Audiovisual

By Marco Zanni

Marco Zanni is President of the European Parliament’s Identity and Democracy Group

18 Sep 2020

The political infrastructure of the EU needs major reform, as the current system has proven incapable of providing rapid solutions to the crisis.

The battle will continue between those arguing that “There Is No Alternative” to creating a European superstate and those who believe that European cooperation can work only if Member States become the main, and essential, pillar.

Top-down homogenisation forced by law against the will of the people has failed. It is therefore more necessary than ever to recognise and value di­fferences.

On the economic side, the Continent has not yet recovered from the 2008 crisis, which has tested its resolve on sovereign debt and pressure from migration. The dramatic circumstances that we are experiencing because of COVID-19 is forcing us to rethink our socioeconomic model.

This is a fundamental step for the recovery of the Continent, which currently has the lowest growth globally, if compared with other regions and developed countries.

“Fostering the wellbeing of Member States and improving economic and jobs growth no longer needs a model based on export and wage compression”

On the geopolitical front, the confrontation will be over the ties of some Member States with China. If the EU prefers to indulge the purposes of countries interested in maintaining strong relations with Beijing and Ankara, rather than strengthening its relations with the liberal democracies of the West, it will compromise its role in global politics.

The environment, and ambitious projects such as the Green Deal, are stressed in the agenda of the German Presidency. However, the ideological stress placed on the ecological transition risks putting more pressing issues on the back burner.

Here, I am referring to the greater decision-making and management autonomy that should be entrusted to Member States. With this in place, we could do less, but do it better and together.

Fostering the wellbeing of Member States and improving economic and jobs growth no longer needs a model based on export and wage compression, where the focus is on the balance between purchasing power, internal demand and export.

The Europe of today needs a return to the values of its identity and Judeo-Christian roots, which are constantly threatened by widening Islamisation. The lack of clarity of relations with nations such as Turkey, as well as uncontrolled illegal immigration, contributes to destroying EU cooperation and the stability of our Member States.

The EU has also wasted an opportunity on the Recovery Fund. The only institution that should be deployed - as is the case in Japan and the United States - is the Central Bank, a position suggested by many “pro-EU” economists. However, it currently acts intermittently and without the perspective of structural interventions.

There is one thing that above all should prompt us to reflect. If, in order to face the COVID-19 crisis, the EU needed to derogate from its own rules (State Aid and the Stability and Growth Pact), it is evident that failure lies in its own structural inadequacy.

The fear is that, faced with the collapse of the economies of Member States, we will find ourselves experiencing yet another irremediable delay from the Union. On Brexit, the EU and the UK are certain to reach an agreement by the end of December.

There will be a compromise on the most relevant issues, while other minor items will be left to a second stage. The most difficult problem to solve will be that of the rules: while the EU would like to keep them unchanged, among the reasons behind Brexit there is the desire for the UK to obtain a competitive advantage from their change.

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