The European elections in May will offer people the chance to decide the direction the EU should take in the next five years as it moves towards a sustainable recovery of the economy. Ahead of this poll, the European Parliament organised a series of conferences on the economy, finances, jobs, the EU in the world and the quality of life.
The international financial crisis that started in 2007 and the eurozone crisis beginning in 2010 coincided with the European Parliament acquiring new powers of decision, which placed it at the heart of efforts to overcome the storm and build a new system.
The EP has helped to shape legislation by advocating and voting for a system at the service of the real economy and by ensuring that taxpayers will never again be the first to pay the bill when a bank fails. It consistently advocated a European approach because a piecemeal economic union is clearly not viable. In addition repatriating economic policy would leave even larger member states defenceless in the face of globalisation.
Major reforms included caps on bankers' bonuses, stronger and more accountable financial sector supervision, a ban on highly speculative financial products, a more accountable economic governance, effective rules on budgetary discipline and stricter rules on credit rating agencies. Other initiatives, e.g. new rules on the winding down of failing banks, are still being negotiated.
On 20 February the Parliament organised a conference on the economy and the banking section in Madrid, where experts and ordinary people debated how to reverse the damage caused by the recession and ensure future economic growth and employment.
It was the final event in a series of five interactive conferences held ahead of the European elections in May on subjects vital to the EU.