Monday, February 17, 2014

Intellectuals Petition for EU Reform

A collective of political scientists and economists has launched a petition for reform of the EU, including a corporate income tax (to be paid into an EU budgetary fund amounting to 0.5-1% of EU GDP). And to apportion this tax, they want a genuine EU legislative body:
Notre seconde proposition, la plus importante, découle de la première. Pour voter l'assiette de l'impôt sur les sociétés, et plus généralement pour débattre et adopter démocratiquement et souverainement les décisions fiscales, financières et politiques que l'on décidera à l'avenir de mettre en commun, il faut instituer une Chambre parlementaire de la zone euro.
The French group has apparently been in discussions with the Glienicke group in Germany.

This is an interesting proposal. Examining it seriously would be one way for the Hollande administration to show some initiative on European issues--initiative that has been sorely lacking, thus contributing to the effectiveness of anti-EU rhetoric on the extreme right.


bert said...

Forgive me, Art, but I think your description of this proposal misses the essential point.

The proposal would attempt to remedy the flagrantly antidemocratic nature of eurozone governance by introducing an element of representative oversight. This may well be a laudable goal, and the proposal may well be a useful reform. But it would by definition exclude member states outside the eurozone.

The eurozone and the EU are different things. So your description - "a genuine EU legislative body" - is an embarrassing clunker.

Best wishes, as ever.

James Conran said...

I wonder how the Eurozone parliament (which seems sensible and a plausible rallying point) could come into being legally speaking. A separate institution with its own elections is unrealistic, but could the MEPs of the EZ states constitute themselves as a "committee" of the EP I wonder?

brent said...

@ james Conran
My understanding is that each eurozone national parliament would send a delegation, proportionate to national population, a sort of multi-party committee of the national legislature. Those delegations would constitute the eurozone chamber, representing their national interests much as the EU Council represents them through the heads of state--only in this system each national delegation would be pluralistic and representative of diverse interests, more than any single head of state would be.

Looks to me like a really interesting structure, balancing national and region-wide interests. Big questions: What sorts of powers does this E-zone chamber exercise? Do the EU Parliament's legislative powers expand? And do the two chambers work together to pass legislation, as our House and Senate (theoretically) do, or are they quite autonomous?

PF said...

This is an interesting proposal, generally constructive in its call for more open debate guided by the value of democratic legitimacy.

It is also clearly shaped by a deep sense of political constraints (the need to build compromise with a CDU/SPD-coalition Germany) and by the need to find a galvanizing strategy for political mobilization.

Otherwise it's not so clear why the top three ideas for reforming the functioning of the eurozone would be
(1) a new set of institutions parallel to the EU's (a second, differently constituted chamber of the EP; a second executive government, different from the Council and EC);
(2) a corporate tax to be legislated by the new parliamentary institution, to raise funds for climate, education, and infrastructure investment; alongside another law setting a national corporate tax floor of 20%,
and (3) a semi-mutualization of national debts, in part to shore up the standing and purpose of the ECB.

As a solution to the current eurozone economic crisis, only #3 makes sense as addressing an actual policy priority. And it's interesting that the manifesto, as published in Le Monde, separates this #3 proposal into a separate, secondary article ( ).

The elephant in the room is that this manifesto doesn't at all call for the politicization of ECB monetary policy decision-making or banking reform and regulation. Despite the controversy that would ensue, I think that both things will be necessary if democratic reformers are ever to push in a direction that would actually help to resolve the crisis and establish greater accountability in the spheres of economic life that most failed and continue to fail the people of Europe.