The New Deal for Europe -For a European Special Plan for Sustainable Development and Employment is a European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) proposed by the European Federalist Movement and many other organizations across the European Union.
First, what is an ECI?
This is a tool of participatory democracy introduced by the Lisbon Treaty in 2009. Since then, European citizens are entitled to send a proposal to the European Commission (EC), demanding for its intervention on subjects on which this institution has a competence to make legislative proposals. If the EC considers that the proposal’s text complies with the treaties, it allows the organizing committee to collect the signatures.
In order for a proposal to be launched it needs at least one million signatures from seven different European countries.
The New Deal for Europe (ND4E) was approved in March 2014, and the collection is open for a year.
As well explained on the website, the ND4E asks the European Commission to propose a public investment plan to help Europe get out of the crisis through the development of the knowledge society and by boosting the creation of new jobs especially for young people. The committee acknowledges that the European crisis is related to the lack of public investments on public goods, and suggests that the European Union should run this kind of intervention.
We might distinguish two aims in the proposal. First, to find a solution to unemployment by boosting job creation through public investments in key sectors (European public goods). Second, to introduce a new paradigm, by promoting a sustainable development.
Indeed, the organizing committee proposes to finance the plan through a financial transaction tax (expected € 30 billion per year) and a carbon tax (expected € 50 billion per year). These new resources would be multiplied by the European Investment Bank (EIB) by issuing project bonds worth € 100 billion. In fact, the European Union in itself has incurred no debt so far, while each state has huge public debt, so the rating of those project bonds would be AAA. The whole plan would be worth around € 400 billion over a three-year period.
So, from the point of view of the economic stimulation, the plan might count on a huge amount of money.
From the point of view of the sustainable development, the proposal aims to invest this money in renewable energy, research and innovation, infrastructural networks, ecological agriculture, protection of the environment and cultural heritage, etcetera, by taxing the Co2 emissions and the big financial transactions. About the so called Tobin Tax there is an ongoing debate; however, supporters say that if a single Member State alone imposed this tax, the outcome would be negative.
Why it might work
119 million people in the EU are at risk of poverty: 24% of the population (source Eurostat). The unemployment rate changes from country to country, but each Member State has issues with that. Many of the EU member states are not able to invest and stimulate the economy, mainly because of the burden of the public debt.
Given this scenario, how can we defeat the economic crisis we have been living with since 2008?
The problem we are dealing with is European; it does not affect just some Member States instead of others, as the EU Member States’ economies are intertwined. As a logical consequence, the solution should be European.
Insofar as the EU does not have enough own resources, but it can count almost exclusively on what the states transfer to the European budget (just 1% of the state’s GDP), an important challenge is to increase that budget and to give to the institutions the competence to deal with such a problem.
It might be useful to consider what other states have done to handle the global crisis. The United States, for instance, proceeded toward government intervention in the economy as a balance, because the market in itself could not handle the crisis. People in Europe who are supporting Draghi’s recent decisions see the Federal Reserve as a model. Moreover, we could also consider the environmental and social aspects, which are fundamental features related to the lack of resources. A few more data might convey the idea of how important it is to have common political rules in Europe. The GDP of the European Union as a whole is about $17.9 trillion; the U.S. one is around $15.06 trillion. More than 500 million people live in the EU, 313 million in America. The public debate should start by considering a wise way to manage this richness.
In short, what we do not have in Europe yet is an institutional framework capable of taking political decisions at a supranational level. The ND4E suggests exactly that: to expand the EU budget and ask for coordination between states in economic policies.