The Young European Federalists (JEF Europe) cautiously welcome the Meseberg declaration published last week following a bilateral meeting of President Macron and Chancellor Merkel: “The Meseberg declaration gives a sense of hope. After long years of waiting we finally see a positive agenda - albeit still not up to the challenges ahead - attempting to address the pressing challenges of our time. European leaders have recognised that change is needed and started discussing solutions instead of red lines. This allows for much-needed progress during this week’s Council meeting and in the coming months”, comments Christopher Glück, President of JEF Europe.
“Yet: We must also be clear that the Meseberg declaration is not a comprehensive reform package and is lacking any truly courageous commitments. Many of the proposals are blurry at best and more detail will be needed to judge whether they can realistically contribute to solving Europe’s woes. A Eurozone budget of below 50bn Euros, for example, is a welcome step, but will not able to fulfill the role of a real stabilisation function in the macroeconomic cycle. The declaration unfortunately also remains remarkably silent on the question of the future size of the European budget. Delivering European solutions for European challenges, as the declaration claims to do, will not be possible with a budget of the current size. Overall, the Meseberg declaration constitutes a clear commitment to a European future by Germany and France, but not the ringing endorsement of European solutions that is needed”, continues Glück.
For the first time since the financial crisis exposed the weaknesses of the Eurozone architecture, the German government agreed that convergence and stabilisation need to be supported on the European level and not by Member States alone. This is a potential turning point that might allow for a more comprehensive compromise package further down the line. In this sense, it is highly welcome that Germany and France commit to further exploring the option of introducing a European unemployment insurance mechanism, a stabilisation and solidarity tool that JEF has long called for. A Eurozone budget is another important tool for convergence and stability, but it must be established with an appropriate size to deliver on its objectives. This is not the case right now. Moreover, it is regrettable that a common European deposit insurance has been postponed to an uncertain time in the future, and that - as a consequence - no other tools for breaking the sovereign-bank loop are discussed. Finally, the declaration unfortunately remains entirely silent on the question of a democratic governance of the Eurozone, including a European finance minister. “If the Eurozone is not strengthened for and with the people of Europe, who is it for then?”, lamented Glück.
It is highly welcome that the declaration calls for a Common European Asylum System and a European border guard. However, the declaration remains blurry on what such a system would entail in detail, with an overemphasis on the security aspects: see for example the positive reference to the EU-Turkey deal as a potential blueprint for other agreements with third countries. “What Europe needs is not only improved governance structures for managing migration but importantly a much stronger commitment to humanitarian values in migration and asylum matters”, commented Glück.
Transnational lists and less Commissioners as from 2024 are good news, especially as Merkel’s party has recently argued forcefully against transnational lists. “One is left wondering, though: if both are the right policies for 2024, why are they not for 2019?”, quipped Glück. The declaration also aspires to ‘end unanimity in foreign affairs’. That of course is an important step if Europe is to play an important role on the world stage in the 21st century. The proposal to achieve this with a European security council and rotating members, however, does not seem to be the most promising way.
More information about JEF Europe
The Young European Federalists (JEF) Europe is a non-partisan youth NGO with 13.000 members active in more than 35 countries. The organisation strives towards a federal Europe based on the principles of democracy and subsidiarity as well as respect for human rights. JEF promotes true European Citizenship, and works towards more active participation of young people in democratic life. While the umbrella organisation JEF Europe was founded in 1972, its sections have been operating continuously since the end of the Second World War, making it the oldest pro-European and only federalist youth organisation.
Christopher Glück, President of JEF Europe
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