(fa fede solo il discorso effettivamente pronunciato)
• Let me start by saying that the European Union has always been characterized by diversity: flexibility is an old problem. We are used to an array of definitions: two speed Europe, Europe à la carte, variable geometry. So this is not a new discussion, but there is in my view a new element: flexibility in a new sauce, we could say. While the debate before the sovereign debt crisis was mainly linked to enlargement – to the deepening versus widening dynamics – the current discussion stems from the need of the Eurozone to overcome its structural economic failures. To put it bluntly, in the past the impulse to differentiate came from the need to accommodate the newcomers; now it comes from the inner core of the EU.
• This different origin of the flexibility discussion has important implications. In the past, we spoke in terms of two-speed or multispeed Europe: speed is a time concept, according to which eventually everyone gets there. Now, on the other hand, we speak of a multi-tier, or two-tier Europe; tier is a space concept, and a more static one.
• The idea of a static two-tier structure is, however, elusive. Let me explain why. I don’t think that some of the current members of the Eurozone are going to leave the common currency – the Grexit debate has been closed by Germany herself. In general, all the major Euro-partners think that the economic costs of the break up of the Euro would be too heavy and the possibility of a domino impact very likely. In light of the current situation, it’s also unlikely that the Eurozone acquire new members in the immediate future. Let’s consider, however, that around 6 out of 10 of the current members of the Union that are not members of the single currency are pre-ins, committed to join the single currency. If and when the euro-crisis is over, part of them – starting with Poland – will join the club. If this is the case, we will have in time a larger euro-zone, while the “external” tier will be left with the UK, Denmark, Sweden and possibly the Czeck Republik.
• The Brexit scenario, however, cannot be discarded – even more so after the recent electoral results; the UK could decide to drift towards the European Economic Area, already accommodating countries like Norway and Switzerland. I consider it to be very negative for the EU – which would loose a key actor, in finance and security – and for the UK itself.
• There is, however, a much more linear scenario, starting from the current situation, where we have the eurozone at 17, with around its 10 EU members: the continental eurobloc, surrounded by the single market- plus.
• In a two-tier structure based upon a tighter euro-zone surrounded by a single market plus I see both risks and opportunities.
• Risks are that the continental euro-economy becomes more rigid, maybe with an increase in protectionism. It will be crucial, then, to preserve and develop the single market. Furthermore, we will have to decide how to apply the provisions now under discussion. For example, it is difficult to see how the Single Supervisory Mechanism will apply to non-Euro banks; another difficult chapter is clearly the budget. I don’t want to talk about this issue, but clearly it is a very difficult one. I also see a risk for the CFSP, in case the two tiers are not ready to cooperate: European security and defence without the UK is very difficult to be conceived.
• Opportunities are of two kinds. On the one hand, the eurozone can try to address its original failures, developing the building blocs of its new governance, according to the Van Rompuy Report; on the other, the existence of a single market-plus tier could make it easier to manage the enlargement to new countries, including Turkey. Gaining back Turkey would give Europe economic benefits – before political ones. All in all, I think that benefits are more important than risks. Especially if, to go back to my initial point, a two-tier Europe is in fact conceived as a dynamic one – new members will possibly enter the EU. And partially as a Union flexible enough to accommodate new important actors, like Turkey.
• How to manage the relationship between tiers is the real question mark. A future reform of the Treaties may prove unavoidable: the new governance of the euro-zone – to be successful – requires new sharing of sovereignty. In theory, we could have a distinct Treaty for the countries belonging to the euro-zone, given the tightness of new commitments. Moreover: with a consistent number of countries in the second tier, the pressure to have two separate or parallel Treaties will increase.
• A reform of the Treaty could possibly include the removal of the rule according to which any country entering the European Union is also expected to join the euro. We need more flexibility here. Those who are willing and able must be free to join – Poland is a case in point. It is much more difficult to decide whether we should also contemplate an exit clause from the euro-zone, because this might trigger a domino effect. We need to admit, however, that the European Union does not coincide with the single currency. And since it does not coincide with the single currency, its raison d’etre must be redefined. We need a new narrative: we know it since many years, but we are not able to produce it.
Finding a new balance between fiscal discipline, growth and employment is part of this new narrative – and not only a narrative. This is becoming the key for a Union able to respond to its cizitens’ priorities.
• The larger European Union would keep for itself significant tasks: the completion of the single market, REGULATORY POLICIES; TRADE AND INVESTMENT NEGOTIATIONS; THE BULK OF THE foreign policy and defence, while a new strategy for growth and employment will have to be based upon joint efforts at both levels.
• The single currency tier, on the other hand, would need to solve not only the problems currently under discussion, including a fiscal capacity for the Union and some form of mutualisation of debt. It would also would need to address, in more radical terms, the problem of democratic legitimacy, given the fact that the new economic governance needed to solve structural failures will be based on a higher degree of shared sovereignty and more intrusive powers of the Commission. CHANGING THE DECISION MAKING PROCEDURE IN THE EUROPEAN ECONOMIC GOVERNANCE WILL BE KEY. BECAUSE THE EUROCRISIS HAS CLEARLY DEMONSTRATED THAT THE CURRENT PROCEDURES – BASED ON UNANIMITY, INTERGOVERNMENTAL BARGAINING, AND POLICY COORDINATION – ARE UNEFFICIENT.
• More bluntly: a working common currency requires a quasi-federal structure, a political Union. And here comes, in my view, a really tricky problem: how can we strengthen democratic legitimacy in a two-tier structure? Do we need – as alluded before – two different treaties, with different institutions? It is in any case a difficult recipe. We must avoid that going along these lines ends up with the scenario which I discarded at the very beginning: the break up not of the eurozone but of the European Union.TO AVOID THIS RISK WE HAVE TO MAKE SURE THAT THE “INTERNAL MARKET PLUS” TIER REMAINS A VIABLE AND VIBRANT ENTITY. NOT SOMETHING RESIDUAL, A SORT OF “SECOND RANK” CLUB FOR THOSE WHO ARE NOT PART OF THE EUROZONE. TO MAKE THAT HAPPEN WE HAVE TO PROVIDE THE WIDER EUROPE WITH A VISION AND WITH A PROJECT.
THE TTIP COULD PLAY A VERY IMPORTANT Role IN THIS RESPECT. I DARE TO SAY THAT IT COULD WORK AS AN ANTIDOTE, AS A LINCHPIN AND AS AN OPPORTUNITY.
• ANTIDOTE BECAUSE IT WOULD HELP DEFUSE THE “PROTECTIONIST TEMPTATION” I MENTIONED EARLIER. AND CLEARLY THIS IS ALSO TRUE FOR THE OTHER SIDE OF THE ATLANTIC.
• LINCHPIN BECAUSE IT WOULD KEEP TOGETHER THE DIFFERENT TIERS OF THE NEW EUROPEAN ARCHITECTURE. THE TRANSATLANTIC FREE TRADE AREA WILL BE A EU WIDE PROJECT OR IT WILL NOT BE
• OPPORTUNITY BECAUSE IT COULD PROVIDE MUCH WELCOME OPPORTUNITIES FOR TRADE AND THEREFORE GROWTH. SOMETHING THAT SHOULD NOT GO UNHEEDED IN HARD ECONOMIC TIMES.
• BUT THERE IS MORE TO IT THAN THAT. THE TTIP COULD ALSO REVITALIZE THE TRANSATLANTIC RELATIONSHIP AND PUT IT BACK IN THE SPOTLIGHT.
• IT MIGHT ALSO HELP MAKE THE EUROPEAN POLITICAL DEBATE LESS PAROCHIAL AND, ALLOW ME TO SAY, LESS CLAUSTROPHOBIC. WHILE THE PATTERNS OF HISTORY AND THE GLOBAL BALANCE OF POWER IS SHIFTING, EUROPE KEEPS ON BEING ABSORBED BY ITS INTERNAL STRIFE.
• DECLINE IS NOT A DESTINY. IT IS A CHOICE. OR AN OMISSION. IF EUROPE DOESN’T FIX ITS INTERNAL PROBLEMS, IF IT DOESN’T RENEW ITS “SOCIAL CONTRACT” THROUGH NEW AND MORE INNOVATIVE FORMULAS, IT WILL BECOME ALMOST CERTAINLY A FACT.