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A turning point for Europe

The decisions taken by the European heads of State and government on 9th December, include many positive innovations, which show true determination to overcome the crisis of doubt and defiance.

We now have euro governance. There are strict rules so that national budgets can recover balance and for the reduction of public debts. They now have to be included in the national constitutions and if they are infringed, sanctions will follow.

The main decisions regarding economic policy will be discussed together and coordinated across Europe. Emergency mechanisms have been set out and the responsibility of their implementation given to the European Central Bank.

A treaty will soon make these commitments official, but they have immediate effect. This major step forward is supported by all Member States, except for the UK, which in its nostalgia for "laissez faire" - is demonstrating an extremely short-sighted vision, interests of the moment and an evident mistake - it is hanging on to the financial model that led to the crisis, which continental Europe and even the USA, are trying to regulate.

For the first time in a long time, all of the European institutions and the authorities have worked together and everyone will play a full role in the rapid implementation of these decisions.  

To those who are worried about these innovations, which have been forced on us because of circumstances, we might say that this exceptional level of solidarity is the expression of a political determination to break with the spiral of doubt, indecision and division. The spirit of cooperation has won the day; it was a prerequisite. Politicians were determined and this was vital. A giant step forward is now possible towards fiscal and budgetary union. This will require a long term vision that has to be assumed in the face of public opinion.

To those who are concerned about austerity in Europe, we should remember that there will be no growth without bringing order back to public accounts. Of course the Union must now set to work with the same energy and in as a coordinated manner, to strengthen and develop its industrial activities, its exports, its competitiveness. It has now given itself the means, with the institutions and procedures that it should use to this end.

 But we have to acknowledge that the Member States have shown their leadership, starting with Germany and France, who have put forward acceptable proposals by all, together with answers that are adapted to the crisis. Their determination to accept veto from no one, whilst continuing with European integration is the right way to act. It will successfully become part of European law. At this major turning point, Europe is credible.