Governments must take urgent action to counter the serious economic crisis we are facing.
This is a time when several European policies are being put to the test. Monetary policy, which has been criticised for many years is now unanimously saluted. It can even be said that the European Central Bank and the Euro are supporting world monetary stability. We must unite around the Euro.
Regulation. Extensive within Europe it does not exist at international level.
Interdependency of world economies has not found its counterpart with a minimum of order and regulatory bodies. It is up to Europe to impose them at the forthcoming G20 summit in London, taking advantage of the new American administration which now appears to be calling for regulation.
European rules on competition are essential for our companies and for the single European market. With the Euro this market is the salvation of many of our jobs, and in any case of two thirds of our exports. There cannot therefore be any question of erecting new obstacles to trade within Europe.
And yet the exceptional circumstances we are witnessing justify temporary and collective exceptions since financial resources remain national. Just to save the essential. Moreover, the pragmatism shown by Neelie Kroes, Commissioner for competition, enabled the recapitalisation of banks, which has saved the financial system. The French plan for the car industry will, without a doubt, show proof of its compatibility with the rules that must be preserved, because we will need them.
But it is now time, more than ever before, for Europe to show proof of its usefulness in responding to emergencies. The Commission has not taken the initiative and set the tone for recovery plans. The current Union presidency did not see the need for a meeting of Heads of State and government until France and Germany suggested it!
It is true that Vaclav Klaus stated again on 7th January in the Financial Times that “social, health, working and environmental rules which hinder human activity should be reduced”, markets should be liberated rather than controlled!
The essential conviction that free trade is the best tool for the distribution of wealth should not, however, turn us into idiots. All the European institutions and all Member States must mobilise to meet the crisis. Opening up Europe does not mean turning it into a sieve, it must be done intelligently. Opening up markets is a good thing, but it should first be done in favour of Europeans. Defending oneself and demanding reciprocal agreements is essential, including from our major world trade partners.
For example, in the United States, a law known as the "Buy American Act", requires institutions to buy American. Why is there no equivalent in Europe? The Union must now believe itself to be powerful.
Those who oppose such a measure are truly behind the current European waves. If they continue to lie to during the storm they will be the ones guilty of the return of bad weather in Europe.