After the experience of recent years, it is common knowledge that the European Union needs to revisit and adjust its policies to the new realities that have emerged.
The proposals unveiled yesterday by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker are a step in that direction. It is a step that will be neither simple nor easy, as the reaction of the German finance minister demonstrated. Yet, it is absolutely necessary.
Juncker noted that after years of crisis, it is time to take the future of Europe in our hands, so as to ensure that our economic and monetary union is more united, effective, and democratic.
The economic crisis highlighted the political and administrative shortcomings which the eurozone and the EU in general must confront.
We witnessed that here in Greece because, along with our own many mistakes, we have paid for – and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future – the unpreparedness of Europe to manage the crisis and the credibility of the common currency.
This weakness led Greece to turn to the IMFF, which assumed a central role in shaping policies and loan memorandums to handle a situation that had not been foreseen.
Now, the European Commission President is proposing the creation of a European Monetary Fund (EMF), which will be grounded in the legal framework of the EU, and will be based on the established structure of the European Stability Mechanism (ESM), so that the services of the IMF will no longer be needed.
Juncker proposed a series of changes, such as the creation of the office of a European economics and finance minister, who will carry ex officio the title of Commission vice-president.
This framework of reforms is largely based on the proposals of French President Emmanuel Macron, who has set as a priority the reform of the EU’s institutional structures and policies.
These proposed changes have met with the opposition of at least a segment of the German leadership, which insists on more conservative and gradual reforms. The new political balances that will emerge in Germany if a coalition government is formed will largely determine the acceptance and breadth of reforms.
It is clear that European leaders cannot for much longer ignore the wave of dissatisfaction that has grown in many countries.
Just as the revival of old nationalist patterns represented by newfangled populists and the far right does not constitute a solution, so too the papering over of problems that the European idea faces cannot continue.
Sixty years after the first seed for the creation of the European Union was planted, this grand initiative that impacts on all of our lives cannot be discarded by short-sighted and fearful leaderships.