Friday, 19 December 2008

Rasmussen: "More needs to be done on pan-European recession plan"

Guest post by Poul Nyrup Rasmussen

Last week the European Union agreed a European Economic Recovery Plan supposedly worth 1.5% of GDP. I think such a plan is absolutely essential. Furthermore, if those investments – coming mainly from the member states as the EU’s own budget is very small - are made simultaneously and in a coordinated way, the spill-over effects will almost double the impact. Problem is reaching a non-binding agreement is easy. The reality may be somewhat different.

The Party of European Socialists has attracted some rather unfavourable comment in the FT and The Economist (and much positive coverage elsewhere) on our manifesto for the 2009 European elections – agreed by all member parties including Labour at our meeting on December 1 in Madrid: check it out at The FT disapprovingly quotes our manifesto “The conservatives often talk about economic and social crises as if they are unavoidable, a law of nature… Conservatives have pursued a policy of blind faith in the market - serving the interests of the few rather than the general public…”. They didn’t like that. But now we can see that it is only social democratic governments that are really mounting a fight against the recession. How is Europe going to achieve a 1.5% of GDP stimulus package when of the big EU economies only Gordon Brown’s Labour and the Socialists under Zapatero in Spain are investing more than 1% of GDP in growth?

There is no new stimulus package from conservative-led Germany, who prefer instead to make unduly harsh – and in my opinion inappropriate – criticisms of Gordon Brown for what I and most PES party leaders consider to be a very good stimulus package.

As for the EU’s recovery plan, a lot more still needs to be done if we are to going to prevent recession turning into mass unemployment. That’s what you get with a conservative majority in Europe, whether the FT and Economist will admit it or not. Instead we see the Commission rather overselling the Recovery Plan which risks creating disappointment and eventually more disillusionment. The fact is the Recovery Plan is not enough to maintain employment levels – and only Gordon Brown and José Luis Zapatero are acting decisively enough.

Some misinformed doom-monger is spreading an anti-left myth: that there are only four Socialist Governments in the European Union. This is false. While it is true that the conservatives are in a majority at the moment we do have eight socialist and social democratic PMs in Europe – in Austria, Bulgaria, Hungary, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and the UK. We also have parties in Government coalitions in Belgium, Cyprus, Estonia, Germany, Luxembourg, The Netherlands and following recent elections should soon be entering a coalition Government in Romania.

1 comment:

Robert said...

True the whole of the EU including the UK is a Conservative controlled area,