Friday, 18 June 2010

Van Rompuy giving European Council economic reform teeth?

The European Council’s conclusions on the new European strategy for jobs and growth, including the Europe 2020 strategy and the integrated guidelines for economic and employment policies, fell short of changing the perception of implementation as usual.

However, in his invitation letter to the heads of state or government, president Herman Van Rompuy had promised to outline some ideas on what the forthcoming meetings of the European Council should achieve, in order to optimise their preparation.

In order to assess, if we can we expect fresh “impetus”, we have to look at Van Rompuy’s comments after the European Council meeting 17 June 2010.

Referring to the task force on economic governance, Van Rompuy remarked that the European Council approved the provisional conclusions on stricter supervision of the budgets and of competitiveness. He was convinced that this will enhance the stability and the growth potential of the EU economies.

As far as I know, Van Rompuy’s provisional conclusions have not been made public, so we have nothing more than the task force chairman’s own assurance of improved stability and growth potential.

According to Van Rompuy, the preventive and the corrective arm of the stability and growth pact will be strengthened. Economic governance should be improved among all 27 EU members (not just the eurozone), without changing the institutional roles or the contents of the Lisbon Treaty.

Thus, Van Rompuy’s promise that the European Council will set directions and priorities for economic strategy and governance looks more as a limitation of scope than like new “impetus” for effective surveillance.

Van Rompuy remained non-committal on improving the work and results of the European Council:

Over lunch I also explained to my colleagues how I should like to organise our work in the coming 6 to 8 months. I want to keep the focus improving our economic strength.

To the unconvincing conclusions of the European Council, president Herman Van Rompuy added a few phrases of well-rounded opacity.

Seeing is believing – but we ain’t seen nothing yet.

Ralf Grahn