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Debates
Wednesday, 24 September 2008 - Brussels OJ edition

Situation of the world financial system and its consequences on the European markets (debate)
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  Silvana Koch-Mehrin, on behalf of the ALDE Group. – (DE) Madam President, ladies and gentlemen, the global financial crisis has spread through the markets with unforeseeable consequences. Some people may feel a sense of satisfaction at the sight of bankers falling from grace and losing their jobs. However, this is very short-sighted, for the real losers are not the company bosses or the traders. It is ordinary families who are hardest hit by the credit crunch and the collapse in the value of shares and savings. It is their financial security which is shattered when the value of pensions and savings is put at risk.

That is why it is essential to undertake a precise analysis of the financial crisis and its causes to ensure that it does not happen again, and I am pleased that we are doing so today. Martin Schulz used his speech to rail against the markets. In light of Mr Schulz's predictions last November, which he has kindly reminded us of, this might give him the chance to earn some extra income as an oracle. However, it is money which drives the markets, not hot air, and he needs to recognise that fact.

The appropriate response to the current crisis is not a move away from free enterprise. It is enterprise which creates jobs and prosperity. Do the financial markets really need more regulation? Ludwig Erhard, the father of the German economic miracle, summed it up neatly. He said that the state should establish the rules for the economy and the financial system, but like a referee, it should not involve itself in the game. What this means, of course, is that it must take action against fouls and violations of the rules.

Regulation is appropriate and necessary in order to avoid excesses, but it is not the market economy which is to blame for the crisis; that blame attaches to those who refuse to abide by frameworks and rules. For years, experts have been warning against high-risk loans, unsecured credit and a bubble waiting to burst in the financial and property markets. We need common and transparent rules for Europe as a whole, and for the world. Yes, we need international controls, but with a sense of proportion. It is no good to anyone if we immobilise capital movements with more rules and trigger an economic downturn.

Above all, we need to restore confidence in a free and open market. The economic stability of Europe's and the world's citizens depends on whether we show ourselves to be capable of action. However, the international markets will not stop and wait for decisions in Europe, and nor will they wait for Parliament to make its pronouncements.

Commissioner, Minister Jouyet, my group is expecting you to take rapid, rational and successful action, and to do so now.

 
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