"Lessons from a crisis": the President of the European Council sees new opportunities for the EU
Speaking on May 25th at the Brussels Economic Forum 2010, the President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy stressed the need to consider the crisis as a new opportunity for the EU.
“In a way, the old cliché holds: every crisis is an opportunity”, the President said. “It creates a possibility to act. To do things we were unable to do”, he added.
The crisis can encourage the EU to take not only technical, but also political decisions. “We are clearly confronted with a tension within the system, the ill-famous dilemma of being a monetary union and not a full-fledged economic and political union”, Rompuy says.
“This tension has been there since the single currency was created”, the President admits. “Nobody ever told the proverbial man in the street that sharing a single currency was not just about making peoples’ lives easier when doing business or travelling abroad, but also about being directly affected by economic developments in the neighbouring countries”.
At the same time Rompuy does not share pessimistic views on the future of the euro area and the EU as a whole. “We are not in the monetary Armageddon”, he said, adding that it is “a political duty to keep a sense of proportion” and to learn lessons from the crisis.
According to Rompuy, EU member states should “reach greater budgetary discipline”. Stability and Growth Pact must remain a key instrument for this, and Rompuy shared a “German idea to integrate the European deficit and debt rules into national legislation: it is a way of making visible that European rules are not just “from Brussels”… but that they are self-imposed by each Member-State to the benefit of all”.
Rompuy also called to reduce “divergences in competitiveness between the Member States”, as “sound budgetary policies are necessary but not sufficient to ensure competitiveness”. “We could have known this from the start, but it took this crisis to hammer down the point”, he stressed.
Background. The European Council is an intergovernmental institution bringing together heads of states or governments of the EU member states. As of 1 January 2010 it is headed not by the rotating six-month presidency, but by a permanent president elected for two and a half years. Herman Van Rompuy has been appointed the first non-rotating European Council President.Back to