EU urgently needs to change - Polish PM
The European Union is stuck in a vicious cycle of crises. If there is any hope of breaking it, the EU urgently needs to change the course after May’s European Parliament election, PM Mateusz Morawiecki said in an interview published on Tuesday by the Politico portal .
In the interview, PM Morawiecki presents his own vision of EU change. According to him it should be based on five pillars: fighting with inequality, boosting innovation, fighting against monopolies and protectionism, raising spending, protecting borders and protecting democracy.
"We have experienced many crises in the past, but the situation we find ourselves in today is by far the most serious. Brexit, subsequent waves of migration, terrorism, economic slowdown, public debt in many member states — all these have raised serious doubts about the future of the European project among its citizens," argued the Polish PM adding that "the answer to these crises in Brussels has been to centralise power, forget about democracy, transparency and accountability, and disregard national sovereignty."
"It is an approach that is dangerously misguided," Morawiecki told Politico and stressed that "Europeans need an EU that is socially sensitive, ambitious and innovative, tough on monopolies and protectionism and safe. Most importantly, the EU needs to return to its roots as a union of strong, equal and free nations."
Presenting his five-point plan for the road ahead, Morawiecki stressed that Europe needs a new economic model that ensures dynamic growth in a free-market economy and more effectively combats inequalities. "That will require a fair tax system and ambitious programmes to reduce poverty and break glass ceilings, especially for young, small and medium companies," said the PM.
He also stressed the need for innovation. "Europe should create an ambitious infrastructure investment programme that will drive higher economic growth and raise living standards across the bloc," argued the PM. "As a continent, we must also become leaders in advanced technologies and industry. The EU should set up a European innovation strategy that sets the agenda on artificial intelligence, the internet of things, big data and machine learning. We should also support building European champions that can compete on a global scale," added Morawiecki.
According to the Polish PM this can be achieved "if we take the appropriate steps — including reducing the European value-added tax (VAT) and corporate income tax (CIT) gap. The annual loss of revenues from these is about EUR 300 billion — about twice as much as the EU's annual budget."
In Morawiecki's opinion, the EU "urgently needs to establish a real common market to give European entrepreneurs the freedom they need to innovate and provide new services. For too long, several countries with protectionist ambitions have stood in the way of making this a reality, under the pretext of protecting local labour markets. This type of intra-EU protectionism is hurting millions of European consumers and employees," noted the PM.
"We also need to wage a real fight against global and regional monopolies, including online platforms and networks. The EU should create an authority — a type of European Anti-Monopoly Office — with a mandate to combat practices infringing on the interests of European consumers and EU economies," continued the PM.
As for security, Morawiecki stressed that to make sure Europe is truly safe in the years ahead, "we will have to focus on innovation in the military sector and dramatically increase spending on defending our democracies against cyber attacks and new forms of hybrid warfare."
He added that "we should also be wary of support given to Russia by some EU countries under the guise of economic cooperation. Projects such as Nord Stream 2 are dangerous for energy security and, as a result, the safety of the entire Union."
And finally addressing the question of the protection of democracy, the Polish PM accuses Brussels of treating certain member states better than others "with approaches to budget deficits, state aid, or institutional reforms seeming to differ according to the countries involved."
The Polish PM also stressed that the EU needs "to do a much better job of ensuring that rules are applied fairly among its member countries. It is unacceptable for EU authorities to criticise some countries’ institutions for practices that do not raise objections elsewhere."
In his assessment, "Brussels also often betrays a lack of understanding for the domestic situation in countries in Central and Eastern Europe that have gone through the hell of World War II and communism. Instead of being an honest broker, the institutions become judges in their own case. The answer to this problem is simple: more democracy. Fewer decisions should be made by politicians in Brussels, and more responsibility given to the democratically elected representatives of the EU’s member countries."
"Europe was founded on the idea that its member states are equal within the alliance. Only once Europe is truly a group of equal and self-respecting states, can the Continent become a superpower," Morawiecki said in conclusion.