During the financial crisis, Parliament set up a Special Committee on the Economic, Financial and Social Crisis to look into its origins and how to prevent similar problems in the future. French Socialist Pervenche Berès is responsible for drawing up a report on the committee's findings and presented it on Monday. It includes feedback from national parliaments and aims to ensure concrete policy recommendations will get broad support across EU parliaments. She told us more.
What is the aim of the report?
The report looks to the long-term. The main message is that if we are to learn the lessons of the crisis we need to rework the Treaty (that governs how the EU works). Some improvements have been made and approved by Parliament. It's a first step. We need the EP to be involved in the procedure, otherwise it is not democratic...My report is intended to build a strong message vis-à-vis the other institutions.
Your report was prepared in cooperation with national parliaments, does it open the way for more frequent cooperation and consultation?
To get out of this crisis we need to work together. Obviously this implies a more democratic Europe with the benefit of close association with national parliaments.
When we introduced the euro, the only tool at our disposal to coordinate economic policies was the Stability Pact. That did not work because it did not prevent the worsening of divergences in competitiveness between member countries in the euro zone. To avoid a reoccurrence, countries must put common strategies in place. I do not think we will succeed simply with punitive strategies, with sanctions, so it would be better if national parliaments are involved in negotiations from the outset.
A good example is what has happened in Portugal...Portugal has had four austerity plans in one year. It is in nobody's interest that Prime Minister Jose Socrates was forced to resign. To overcome the crisis we need a government that can implement the reforms and that can't be done by changing every 3 minutes. Everybody has an interest in the Portuguese parliament being more involved and being able to back the proposed reforms.
Your report suggests increasing the EU budget to between 5-10% GDP (from 1% now)...
It's a signal. The idea is that the EU is stronger together and, today, faced with globalisation, this solidarity is even more important. But it has to be financed. A message out of step with the mood in the Council, but shared by many colleagues.
Is tax harmonization feasible?
We can't ask member states to implement strict austerity measures and never raise the question of tax recepits. Knowing how many companies working in Europe pay taxes is a question worth asking.
The interview was conducted in French